THE severe winter weather before Christmas has meant a huge drop in donations to charity shops and has seen stock levels at some outlets falling to an all-time low.
Charities are urging people to remember their local shops now that temperatures have risen above freezing and bring in their donations.
One of the worst affected charities is the PDSA which runs a free veterinary service across the UK.
Nationwide the PDSA saw sales figures slump by 20 per cent before Christmas compared to the same period last year. The charity fears that shelves could be bare by the end of the month if the decline continues.
Director of business services, Andrew Holl, said: “It wasn’t only the temperature that plummeted - donations dropped significantly too. The festive period is always a difficult time but this year has been one of our worst. If the situation doesn’t improve, the financial implications could be very damaging. We urge people to remember us.”
The drop in donations could not have come at a worse time for the charity as PDSA vets experienced their busiest year on record. Nearly 400,000 pets were treated in 2010, a 50 per cent increase over the past five years.
Dawn Starkey, manager of the PDSA shop in Commercial Street, Brighouse, said: “As a charity we rely totally on people bringing in items for us to sell and we definitely noticed a drop in people coming in last month.
“I can’t blame them because the weather was so awful but now we desperately need new stock so that we can do our job. Clothing, CDs, books, DVDs, household items, all donations are welcome.”
Mechelle Hopkins, area manager for British Heart Foundation shops, said donations had dropped by at least 50 per cent. “It has had a huge impact on the variety of stock we can offer at what is usually one of our busiest times of the year.
“Brighouse people are usually very generous with their donations and I would appeal to them to support their local shop. We need new stock to generate turnover and income for the charity.”
Tracey Broadbent, retail co-ordinator for Overgate Hospice charity shops, said the bad weather had prevented people from getting out and about with the result that donations and sales had slowed down.
”The new year is always a slow time for charity shops and if the bad weather continues it could make for a bad situation but we hope the public will get behind us and bring in their donations.
“In Brighouse we have a furniture shop so we would like to appeal for donations of good quality furniture and it is worth remembering that we can recyle clothing that is not in a saleable condition. We also offer a collection service on 01422 387117 for anyone who cannot get to their local shop.”