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Town manager’s charity shop letter

WE have been asked by Bognor Regis town centre manager Toyubur Rahman to print the following comments:


“In response to your article “Smelly charity shops are letting town down” dated September 16.


“I would like to make it clear that I did not say ‘smelly charity shops are letting the town down’ or ‘the condition of some of the cheap outlets in the town centre risked damaging its retail outlets’. And although these are headlines, people think I said those exact words and people working in charity shops are hurt by that.


“However, the content in which my remarks are in speech marks are fine and I am happy to stand by my comments, although I was speaking about the retail charity industry as a whole.


“Charity shops are an important part of most town centres and provide products and services to people who may not otherwise be able to afford these items brand new.


“In the core Bognor Regis town centre area, there are about 18 charity/vintage stores and makes up a significant sector of the town. Charity shops are facing increased demand from both ends of the spectrum.


“The rising cost of living and the economic downturn have meant the public increasingly depend on them for goods while charities need stores to provide as a stable source of income amid funding cuts.


“Business rate reductions of 80 per cent or more and favourable rents have made it possible for charity retailers to fill the premises left vacant by failing retailers. Figures suggest there are an estimated 9,000 charity shops in the UK, with over a £1bn in sales.


“As more people began to turn to charity shops to find better value, the proportion of the population frequenting them has risen. With local government budgets being squeezed, councils are less likely to grant additional discretionary business rate relief to any tenant entering the high street, with charity retailers no exception.


“Furthermore, Britain’s charity retail sector provides opportunities for over 218,000 people, who volunteer in charity stores nationwide which is the largest single group of volunteers in the country.


“61 per cent of charity shop volunteers believe that volunteering has a positive impact on their physical and mental health and over 80 per cent think it improves their self-esteem and confidence.


“But, just as importantly, training volunteers in charity shops can help equip young people and the long term unemployed with the skills they need to find full time work in the retail sector in this increasingly competitive job market.


“However, charity retailers will need to be more competitive than ever in order to maintain their levels of fundraising.


“Branding, merchandising, communications, diversifying their offer and appealing to younger audiences will all be important to retail charities in the future.”


EDITOR’S NOTE: Headlines and indirect quotes are used to sum up comments made by individuals and we believe those used in the article in question accurately did that.

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