Croydon charity shops ask people to keep on giving
SHIRLEY Handley has managed the Croydon British Heart Foundation (BHF) shop, in High Street, for the last 12 years, but never seen business as bad as it is now.
"It has got worse because of the riots, the empty offices, silly little things like road resurfacing," she said.
"Things just seem to be dying this end of town."
As if that wasn't bad enough, the BHF has recently been targeted by gangs of thieves, who cruise the streets stealing binbags full of donations left by locals on its doorstep.
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"We've done a police report, but there's nothing you can do," Shirley added.
June Tumilty, area manager for the British Heart Foundation, said that their biggest challenge is getting donations through the door.
She explained: "Customers are being conned. People assume that the vans (used by thieves) belong to British Heart Foundation, but they don't.
"When I first started five years ago, profits were 15 per cent, now I'm lucky if I get eight per cent."
Just five minutes walk from the BHF, those at Save The Children, in Cherry Orchard Road, paint a more optimistic picture.
Joint manager Gwen Wilkinson says that business is even better than usual.
She said: "We have done better this year. We've gone a few thousand up, but then our prices are very low. We've probably got the lowest price of anybody.
"Our area is good for shoppers; we're on the way to schools and town. We can't understand it but we've just come over the Christmas glut, and our donations were absolutely phenomenal."
Gwen says the real key to her thriving shop is low prices.
She added: "I think our success is down to the fact we don't overcharge.
"This idea that people want to give to us for charity is nonsense, they just want to get rid of their tat."
Looking ahead at the shop's future prospects, Gwen added: "At the moment we're ticking along a little better than usual, because everyone is working very hard so that we can stay open."
Five minutes in the other direction, those at disability charity Scope, in London Road, are equally buoyant.
"Sales and performance have been static for the last 12 months," said Warren Kirwan, a spokesman for the shop.
"In terms of donations, we distribute a lot of stock from our central shops. We're not reliant on donations directly to local shops, so when people go around swiping bags we're not affected."