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Charity shops 'encourage giving'

The presence of charity shops in town centres encourages people to donate to good causes, according to a survey.

Research by the think-tank Demos found 59% of people believed the shops on Britain's high streets made them more likely to give money charity.

Demos said figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) suggest the total amount given by members of the public to charity fell by £1.7bn in 2011/12 - a drop of 20%. But organisations that maintained a visible presence on the high street received a boost in support beyond just selling items, the think-thank said.

A fifth of people (22%) said going a charity shop led them to support the organisation in further ways such as donating money, finding out more about the charity's work, or signing petitions.

Four out of five people said they had donated items to a charity shop in the last 12 months, with 50% donating items on more than five occasions throughout the year.

Women are more likely to donate than men (83% against 74%) while older people were the most likely to support their local shop through donations, with 86% of 55 to 64-year-olds and 87% of over-65s donating at least once.

Meanwhile, figures showed two thirds of people (64%) have purchased from a charity shop in the last year.

People from the South West were the most likely to buy from a charity shop, with 74% revealing they had bought at least one item, while 7 in 10 (69%) of people in the West Midlands, Wales and Northern Ireland spent money in charity shops. Londoners (57%), and people from the North East (55%) and Scotland (57%) were the least likely to go.

Polling analysis also revealed a high correlation between regular purchasers and donors, with a quarter (23%) of people who had donated over 20 items in the past year also purchasing at least 20.

Ally Paget, researcher at Demos working on the project, said: "This polling shows that charity shops bring benefits to our communities beyond affordable shopping. Many charities are struggling since the recession as people are feeling a squeeze on their disposable income. Anything that can encourage people to donate more money is incredibly important."

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