Oxfam forced to import goods as donations slide

Oxfam could soon be turning to Europe for secondhand stock for its 850 stores. The charity is considering carrying out a feasibility study to assess the benefits of importing donated goods from mainland Europe.

Oxfam could soon be turning to Europe for secondhand stock for its 850 stores.

The charity is considering carrying out a feasibility study to assess the benefits of importing donated goods from mainland Europe.

Oxfam carried out a study four years ago, from which it concluded that importing was not cost effective. As a result, more clothing, book banks and house-to-house collections were set up.

Ian Bray, spokesman for the charity, says donations have reached a plateau: “The reason Oxfam is looking again at importing is that we have reached saturation level with those three mechanisms.”

A report by market research company Mintel has described a downward trend in donations, as people begin to realise the value of secondhand goods.

Yet Oxfam reports that sales are up five per cent since last year. The charity does not know if this rise is due to a higher value of goods or an increase in donations.

A Mintel spokesman adds: “Other charities are looking at importing goods and one of the larger ones has carried out tests in Holland.”

Oxfam, which also has stores in Germany and Ireland, sells 44m worth of donated goods a year, a large percentage of its turnover.

The charity is also contemplating moving into out-of-town retail parks, although no firm plans have been made to date.

Spokeswoman Emma Stone says: “We are always reviewing our retail locations and if the high street is moving to out-of-town locations, then we will be looking at that.”

Factfile, page 36

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