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23 OCT 2009

Clic Sargent charity shop
Address: 90, Shirley High St
Years on the street: 17
Number of staff: Two
Manageress: Debbie Neary
Company service: 11 years

"We're 14% up on this time last year," says Debbie Neary, manageress of Clic Sargent, a charity that cares for children with cancer. The average increase across all 26 branches nationwide is 4%, she says.

"People are looking for bargains because of the economic climate. People think twice about what they're spending."

The only problem is that people are holding on to the stuff they would usually be giving away, she says, although in the last four or five weeks donations have been good. The only thing she is short of is bric-a-brac.

26 JAN 2008

Contacted by phone in January, Debbie Neary was sounding positive: "We have got the customers but we need volunteers and stock so this year I'm going out into the community and into schools to generate more donations."

31 OCT 2008

Despite almost constant doom and gloom about the economy, reports suggest some businesses may benefit from these troubled times - among them charity shops, with their cheap goods and tax concessions.

Debbie Neary agrees, as business has picked up in the past week.

Debbie Neary, charity shop manager
Takings were definitely up last week to about £1,200 - we're feeling optimistic

"I put an awful lot of Christmas party clothes out, and all of our Christmas gifts that we've saved up during the year. It really seemed to pull people in - the shop was packed all day on Saturday."

Coats and boots are particularly popular.

"We put all our winter boots out a few weeks ago - we've collected them through the year - and I think we've only got four pairs left. We had three racks of coats a little while ago and now we're down to our last one. They're expensive things and people maybe don't feel they can spend too much on them this year."

As with other retailers, the run-up to Christmas is her busiest time - and this year bargain-hunters are out in force. "They're not spending as much in normal shops. That's certainly what the general comments have been from people coming in. They say they're looking for bargains for Christmas - presents, things to wear.

"Takings were definitely up last week. The week before it was about £900 and last week it was about £1,200. It's really nice. We're feeling optimistic."

Debbie still needs more items to sell, so she is taking decisive action on that front.

"We've increased our bag-drop collectors to deliver every week now until Christmas. That way we should have a guaranteed 60 or 80 bags a week coming through.

"We need it because what comes through to door is hit or miss, it could be a lot one week and nothing the next. It means we can get new stuff in for Christmas and hopefully if people see we're always changing they'll come in more often."

9 OCT 2008

Debbie Neary manages the Clic Sargent charity shop on Shirley High Street.

Debbie Neary, 50, has been manager of the Clic Sargent charity shop for 10 years. She has seen a big drop in donations as people feel the pinch.

"We just don't get what we used to. I think a lot of people are either taking stuff to car boot sales or selling it on eBay to make some money for themselves.

"We used to get lots and lots of paperback books, but in last week's deliveries we got four. It's the same with clothes, we're getting so much less and it's not as good quality. We really have to really pick through everything to find decent stuff. We want to keep the standard of the shop high, but it's hard when you've got less choice."

Debbie is seeing more customers coming through her doors as well.

"I think people are looking in charity shops more to save a few pennies. We save up winter stock that comes in over the summer, but almost all of it has gone already.

"Particularly this year we're seeing people buying winter coats, I suppose because they're an expensive purchase."

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