IS 2011 going to be a frugal Christmas?
With the country’s finances in turmoil and the credit crunch looming over our heads, it seems that more and more people are turning to charity shops to buy Christmas gifts for their family and friends.
New findings by independent consultants JRA research, for the Charity Retail Association, show a rising number of people using charity shops for Christmas gifts.
Their research found 31% of people saying that they had bought a Christmas gift from a charity shop in the past with the figure rising to 38% buying this year.
Presents are a difficult thing for people on a budget to buy, so sometimes second-hand gifts are the best option available.
Charity shops in Huddersfield have seen the number of visitors steadily rise over the last couple of years, especially at Christmas time.
Carol McKeown, deputy manager of the Kirkwood Hospice shop in Byram Street, said: “We’ve been really busy lately.
“More people are realising that shopping at local charity shops is a good way to save money. Everybody’s looking for a bargain these days.”
Karen Wimpenny, manager of the Mind shop in John William Street, had a similar view.
She said: “Times are tough at the minute. There’s no shame in buying from a charity shop; there are some real bargains out there and, even though it’s second-hand, there’s a lot of really good quality stuff to be bought from shops like ours.
“You can definitely buy an outfit here for less than £20, and that’s including shoes and a handbag,” added Karen.
“There’s a bit of a stigma that clothes from charity shops are dirty, but everything has to be steamed clean before it’s put out, and nothing that’s past its best is ever sold.”
Like most charity shops, both Mind and Kirkwood Hospice sell a wide variety of things.
That means it’s possible to do just about all of your Christmas shopping by visiting a few charity shops in the town centre.
But what can you get for £20?
You can buy a half-a-dozen DVDs as well as a couple of ornaments, a jigsaw, a photo album and a few books for just under £20, which is ideal for people who have to watch how much they’re spending.
You can also buy bath salts and other gift sets for around £1 each, which are ideal for people like workmates or those cousins you only see twice a year.
Even things like Christmas cards, decorations and crackers are all available from most charity shops, at a much cheaper price than they are in supermarkets and other similar places.
Most charity shops also sell a large selection of clothes and that £20 cango a long way.
They tend to have everything from kids’ clothes to novelty ties and even party dresses, which are ideal for people who don’t want to spend a lot of money on an outfit they’re only going to wear once.
For bigger gifts that are still charity shops like the British Heart Foundation’s in Market Street.
It sells furniture, as well as stereos, kitchen equipment and even portable televisions for just £10.
British Heart Foundation shop manager Terri Walker, said: “The little TVs are perfect for kids at Christmas – they can use them in their rooms for their games consoles or just to watch stuff.
“All of our electrical goods are tested twice. Once is for safety, and then they’re function tested, to make sure they still work.”
Terri agrees that shopping for gifts at charity shops has become more acceptable in the wake of the credit crunch and encourages people to make use of them so that the things they sell don’t just get thrown away.
“Everybody’s feeling the strain,” she said.
“It’s made people feel a lot less precious about buying things from charity shops, which is good because we’re such a throwaway society that if nobody bought anything from here, everything would end up in a landfill somewhere – and that’s just a waste.”