It’s a sign of the times that sales at charity shops are booming but staff and volunteers at a Huddersfield hospice have been left scratching their heads after seeing a puzzling spike in their sales data.

The Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice, which has 13 shops across West Yorkshire, found that an item of women’s clothing was proving a big seller.

When staff compared their sales for the three-month period July to September 2022 with the same period last year, they noticed that sales of women’s trousers were up by 100%!

Generally, sales are up by 22%, reflecting a trend seen by many charity shops during the cost-of-living crisis but why women’s trousers are flying off the rails is a bit of a puzzle.

Andrea Kay, trading manager at Forget Me Not, said: “When I first saw the figures for women’s trousers I thought maybe there was a mistake, so I checked them and checked them again and it’s true – women’s trousers are flying out the door!

“The figures are aggregated data from all 13 of our shops across West Yorkshire so it’s not as if it’s just one person buying lots of women’s trousers from one shop.

“We’re puzzled by it. The rest of our women’s clothes sales are up too – by 27%, which you might expect due to the cost-of-living crisis. But what’s going on with women’s trousers? Answers on a postcard please!”

Women’s trousers are flying out of the door

Forget Me Not’s data also suggests that the cost-of-living crisis has led to more men visiting charity shops – sales of men’s clothing are up by 45%, with the biggest growth in men’s tops at 70%.

Andrea said: “We are definitely seeing more men buying clothes in our shops than before. A 45% increase in men’s clothing sales – that’s a big jump!

“Some of the increase is women buying for the men in their lives but more men enjoying a rummage in our shops is a very welcome development. We’re curious to know if it’s just West Yorkshire men who are doing this or if it’s a national trend.”

Here are some stats for July to September this year compared to the same period last year: 

·         Total sales up 22%

·         Customer numbers up 20%

·         Cash sales down 6%, card sales up 4%

·         Men’s clothing has seen the biggest growth at 45% with the biggest of 70% increase in sales of men’s tops

·         Electricals is up 32% – Mainly small electricals and kitchen gadgets 

·         Textiles is up 29% – curtains, throws, duvet covers etc 

·         Women’s trousers sales have doubled

·         Women’s clothing in general up 27%

·         47% increase in the ‘sale’ department meaning a bigger demand for reduced items 

For Forget Me Not the additional income is very welcome – their energy bills have doubled and their staff costs are rising too.

Only 6% of their funding comes from the Government so they have to raise over £4 million a year by fundraising through charity shops and community activities to provide their vital services.