Economic slowdown and Sex in the City spur sales at Salvos and St Vinnies

Charity shops across Australia are reporting record sales as family budgets tighten and new clothing traders suffer.

Charity shops across Australia are reporting record sales as family budgets tighten and new clothing traders suffer.

Latest retail figures show new clothing sales are down by 8.8%, but Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul stores say sales are up 11% and 13% respectively.

“With the economic conditions in Australia, we see people hurting,” Salvos stores general manager Neville Barrett says. “It is affecting a different type of person… store managers are reporting that a lot of the customers they’re seeing are new. They have turned to places like the Salvos out of economic necessity.”

Shows such as Sex and the City, which feature op-shop style fashion, and the popularity of vintage clothing, have reduced the stigma of being a second-hand buyer.

Thrift stores are popular with shoppers after an individual look, said St Vincent de Paul senior researcher Andy Marks.

“There are some funky things that you can get at Vinnies that you can’t get elsewhere,” Marks says. “We often get very high-quality goods donated to our stores. People often come across designer-label items if they dig deep enough on the rack.”

Some shoppers are motivated by a desire to help the planet. “If you buy something from the Salvos you know you’re reducing landfill,” Barrett says.

The Council of Textiles and Fashion Industries of Australia has criticised “landfill fashion”. In a report to the Federal Government last month, it said cheap, disposable fashion items were creating an environmental nightmare, with 10,000 litres of water required to make a simple cotton T-shirt.

Inside Retailing

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