Comment by Observer
Just how did Uckfield end up with so many charity shops? It’s a mystery I have puzzled since coming back to live here.
And I am still unsure what to think when told the number has now reached double figures.
On the one hand people argue they are bringing people to the town. That is probably true. But where is the money going that they spend?
If people coming to visit charity shops are going on to spend in other shops, independent retailers, coffee shops and the like, you can argue they are doing good.
There is no real evidence that it is happening. Anecdotally, the story is that people come to Uckfield, tour the charity shops and go home.
If that is true, no overall good for the town’s economy has been done. Money spent in charity shops will in many cases be leaving the town and charities rely heavily on volunteers to staff their premises; so there is no major “wage benefit” to the local town.
Charity shops also have a “head start” over other retailers in that business rates (fixed nationally and collected locally) sees them get an 80 per cent mandatory discount, upon application.
An argument in favour of charity shops is that they are taking retail space in the high streets which would otherwise stand empty: better to have charity shops that empty shops.
The face of many high streets in Britain would be dire, were in not for charity shops, it is argued.
Another argument in favour is that charity shops do provide some employment and that the value of being able to volunteer to people’s well-being is incalculable.
We must not overlook the fact that nationally charities are now deriving around one-fifth of their income from charity shops.
They are also pretty “green”, encouraging re-use of products.
I have to say, it’s a finely balanced argument. You pays your money, you makes your choice.
See you next Saturday
*I am grateful to UckfieldNews.com for allowing me the opportunity to comment on what’s happening in this town of ours. All views are my own and should not be attributed to this website or its owner.