37% of Brits Shop At Charity and Thrift Stores on their Local High Street Amidst the Cost-of-living Crisis

In a recent survey of over 2,000 UK adults, Legal & General delved into the sentiments surrounding the Great British High Street—past, present, and future. With headlines spotlighting ‘the decline of the high street’ circulating, the survey raises a poignant question: Does the love for local high streets persist among Brits?

With rising concerns about the environmental and ethical costs of the shopping industry worldwide, secondhand retail has seen growing importance over recent years. In the UK, there are over 3,800 stores specialised in selling secondhand goods, according to Statista. During 2021, Statista noted sales in these stores saw a tremendous growth of 27.2 percent in value, a clear indication of increased consumer interest in the secondhand market. The popularity of charity shops has also risen more than 15 per cent in the first quarter of 2023 compared with the same period last year, according to Charity Retail’s latest research– highlighting the growing impact of secondhand shopping. We also saw some similar and interesting trends in Legal & General’s latest high street survey.

Key data:

  • Second-hand shopping is in: 37% of Brits have shopped at a charity shop in the last year and the result was more popular among women- according to 42% of women compared to 31% of men. Surprisingly, adults aged 55+ were the most common group to shop at a charity shop by 42%, closely followed by the 45-54 age group (by 38%) and 25-34 age group (33%).
  • Finding a rare find: Over a third of Brits (34%) state they shop in charity shops to find unique finds that they wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere- and for a reduced price. After all, second-hand shopping can also help save you money with 38% Brits agreeing!
  • Giving back: 31% of Brits shop at charity shops or thrift stores as they like that they are supporting important causes through their purchases.
  • Sustainability is a key concern: Just over a quarter of Brits (28%) value sustainability and are keen to support the environment by shopping at charity shops and thrift stores.
  • Brits enjoy supporting their local high street: Despite the increased cost-of-living, it’s great to hear that respondents are actively supporting their local high street. 37% of Brits say they support their local high street by eating at local restaurants and cafes, 32% support their high street by shopping at independent local retailers. Whilst 32% support their high street by shopping at local charity or thrift shops.

When Legal & General asked respondents what they enjoyed most about their local high street, 36% said it was the convenience of being nearby, 24% said it was the variety of shops and businesses, 19% attributed it to supporting the local community. A notable 14% of adults cited vintage, charity and thrift stores as being the key reason for what they enjoy most about their local high street.