Charity Retail – The Superstore Race

The Olympics might be over but there is another race that’s starting to seriously heat up. It’s official – when it comes to Charity Retail, the ‘Superstore Race’ is in full swing!

Everyone knows within real estate, business, commercial retail, and charity retail it is all about Location, Location, Location! But it used to be so much simpler; Find a small to medium sized retail unit, ensure it has good footfall flow, make sure parking was nearby to assist donations and if you could find all of that coupled with reasonably low rent to pay, then you had the cherry on top also!

However, this has all changed over the last 5 years and has been accelerated beyond recognition by Covid. Today, the pressure is on charities to decide as what their retail estate should look like, not only now but in the future. There was a significant rush before Covid for charities to open large retail units (over 3,000 sq. ft) and this trend is showing no signs of slowing down now that we’ve reopened.

There is good reason for this. Simply put, they make more profit.
What is more, until recent years, retail park owners have changed their stance on allowing charity shops to open on their site. There was a time, not all that long ago, where most simply just said no. And why wouldn’t they? They had a steady stream of potential retailers and eateries looking to expand, which put them, the retail park site owners, in the comfortable position where they could happily decide who they let their units out to. Now this has all changed.

Do retail parks still offer the same benefits and opportunities to charities that they once did? The simple answer is yes, very much so!

n fact, today, the opportunities are even greater, and charities are now sought-after tenants by the owners of retail parks. Why? Well, it is not uncommon for a charity shop situated in a retail park to comfortably achieve profits of over £100,000 a year!

With the UK now seeing a worrying number of empty retail units and a reduced footfall in both high streets and community shopping areas, it really does start to beg the question; What is there not to like about retail parks?
Of course, it is essential the accessibility is right, its crucial the retail mix is good for you and your site selection becomes even more important. But ultimately, the risks and costs may be higher – but so are the rewards of getting it right.

Right now, we are typically being invited in by charities that are doing quite well. However, they’ve had the honesty to recognise this issue and are often asking us the same questions:

1. When is the right time to look for a large retail unit given that we believe there is still some shakeout occurring within traditional retail?
2. Are other charities considering this too? How long do we have to formulate an action plan before the best sites are taken, especially as some national charities have aggressive acquisition strategies for large sites?
3. What are the different format options and which ones are right for my charity?
4. What is the ideal location for our ideal format because there are plenty of available shops in sub-optimum locations?
5. What is the right rent / rent free period?
6. Which of our current sites would be affected (and by how much) if we open a large new retail shop? It is called ‘market cannibalism’ when sites from the same business compete for the same customers.
7.MAre my existing shops performing at their optimum? If they do have more to give, then what can be done to improve their performance without reinventing the wheel?
8. MWhich of my shops should be scheduled for closure?

Any of these questions sound familiar? We have helped many charities answer these very questions and manage their retail estate based on what is right for them.

Charity Retail Training & Support Services are a UK registered training provider, made up of a varied team of skilled specialists. Our team provide charities with the support they need to achieve their goals. Our breadth of experience and dedication empowers countless charities to optimise the return from their retail outlets.

If you would like to find out more about our Brand Directory or any of the other ways that we have helped so many charities with their retail business, please get in touch at or on 0208 050 7514.

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