Students support Leicester charity shops post lockdown

By Isobel Rix

Imogen Fitzgerald seeks out some bargains in Barnardo’s, Granby Street

Charity shopping has always been common-place for students on a budget, but since lockdown the reopening of charity shops has highlighted students as an essential customer base. 

Charity shops were given the green light to reopen in England on June 15, but after months of closure it was uncertain how they would fare.

COVID-19 rules in charity shops had to be introduced which included donations being quarantined for 72 hours before they can go out on the shop floor, people maintaining social distancing and strict cleaning regimes.

Rehani Varthelot, 28, has been working at DAPP (Development Aid from People to People UK) in Market Street since 2016 and has noticed changes in customer and donation levels.

She said: “When I started as a shop assistant we were really busy but this year, due to the pandemic, we saw a decline.

“Previous years every week we used to have donations but now it’s particularly during the changing of seasons, for example at the end of summer I get loads of donations but now as winter starts, I don’t get much.

“We have put our trust in students, and they are helping us, we are relying on students most of all.”

Kyra Ching shows there is an abundance on offer in Sue Ryder Vintage and Retro, Leicester

Kyra Ching has been at Sue Ryder Vintage and Retro, Loseby Lane, for three and a half years and similarly recognised students as large supporters of the store.

She said: “There are definitely less customers but not a lot less.

“In terms of sales it’s been alright, but you can’t compare it to the same time last year because last year we did really well.

“We get lots of regulars who come in and lots of students.

“We have actually had an increase in donations since we opened because there’s been people that have saved donations for us during lockdown.”

A 2013 Demos report found that younger people are far less likely to associate charity shops with high street decline than older people, (42 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds compared with 72 per cent of over-65s) suggesting younger people see charity shops in a more positive light than older generations.

Imogen Fitzgerald, 20, a psychology and criminology student at DMU, regularly purchases from charity shops and favours it over fast fashion.

She said: “I feel you can always find unique items that are really different from what other people are wearing.

“The prices are cheap so as a student it is a really affordable option, also it helps fight fast fashion and extends the life of an item.”

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