Charity shops close amid fears for high street

This RSPCA charity shop in Baker Street has permanently closed
This RSPCA charity shop in Baker Street has permanently closed

Report by James Cracknell

Several charity shops in Enfield have not re-opened since the Covid-19 lockdown was lifted and may never do so, in a worrying indicator of the struggling local economy.

Shops that haven’t opened their doors since March when the pandemic began include those run by Royal Free Charity, in Enfield Town; the RSPCA, in Baker Street; Mind, in Southgate; The Children’s Society, in Chase Side; and Oxfam, in Enfield Town.

Royal Free Charity raises money to support patients and staff working for the NHS trust that runs Chase Farm Hospital, but has announced that none of its charity shops across North London will be re-opening. A spokesperson said: “We can confirm that we have taken the difficult decision to close our shops as a result of the retail pressures caused by the pandemic.

“This is in no way a reflection of the efforts of our retail staff over the past few years, who have done an outstanding job. But, in common with some of the best-known high street brands, we have reluctantly concluded that the economic downturn means that our shops will not be viable for a long time, if ever.

“We conducted a consultation with our staff and have informed them, our volunteers and other key stakeholders of our board’s decision.”

Child poverty charity The Children’s Society has not yet re-opened its Chase Side shop but says it hopes to do so in future. Lynne McMahon, director of retail trading and property services at The Children’s Society, said: “While we would have loved to be able to re-open all our shops from July,

the safety and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and customers is paramount. We have been re-opening our shops on a phased basis, initially starting with the larger shops where social distancing can be most easily implemented alongside all other government safety guidelines.

“We are keeping the situation under constant review and thank our loyal customers, supporters, staff and volunteers for their patience and understanding.”

The RSPCA has said that the closure of its Enfield shop in Baker Street was because of an increase in rent, while the pandemic had also had an impact on branch finances. However, a new RSPCA charity shop has now opened in Palmers Green.

A spokesperson said: “It is with a heavy heart that the charity shop in Enfield has been closed. It has been part of the local community since 1995 and a vital source of fundraising. We are grateful to everyone who has supported the shop over the many years and those who have worked there and given up their time volunteering too.

“But we are excited to announce that the branch has opened a new charity shop in nearby Palmers Green and almost all our other charity shops have now re-opened as well.

“We are grateful to everyone who supports our shops as the money raised enables us to continue to do all we can to protect animals across London, fund our two catteries and helps us to prevent cruelty to animals, who now more than ever, need our help.”

Oxfam and Mind did not respond to requests for comment.