Thrift stores see rush in donations, but few shoppers
Though it may not seem obvious, the best place to shop after the holidays may be your local thrift shop.
The end of December is often the busiest time of the year for donation centers such as Goodwill and The Salvation Army. Following the “out with the old, in with the new” mentality, many Connecticut shoppers made donations this holiday season between Dec. 25 and Jan. 1, local thrift stores reported.
Yet while thrift shops may have more merchandise to sell, store representatives said there isn’t typically a rush of shoppers looking to find bargains during January.
Paul Quinn, the store manager of The Salvation Army in Danbury, said the store was currently experiencing a rush of furniture donations, but added January isn’t usually a busy month for sales. October, when shoppers are looking for winter coats, normally is the busiest time of the year.
“I don’t know if shoppers know to come in,” Quinn said. “But furniture is coming in hot and heavy.”
Quinn said the store is receiving about 2,500 pieces a day in donations. Furniture is the store’s bread and butter.
Dorothy Viets, a Connecticut director of community relations for Goodwill, said generally the store sees a 5 percent spike in donations during December.
“We get a large number of donations at the very end of the year,” Viets said. “But we don’t usually notice an increase in January (shoppers). People don’t think that way.”
Viets said most of the donation rush comes from patrons looking to take advantage of the last opportunity to make tax-deductible donations before the end of the year. However, this year the store saw fewer donations overall, largely due to disrupted shopping following Hurricane Sandy and the Newtown shooting.
Tim Phelan, president of the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association, agreed the two events, combined with “shenanigans” in Washington, had disrupted the season.
“There were a lot of challenges that took place at the end of the year for retailers,” Phelan said. “In the end I still think the results will show it was a positive year. But it may not have been as good of a year as we would have liked.”
Phelan, still compiling reports, said he expects Connecticut retailers to report an increase in sales overall compared to last year but that the state “probably didn’t beat any records.”
Taking a cue from the national stage, holiday sales didn’t live up to expectations.
Originally the National Retail Federation and the International Council of Shopping Centers had projected a 3 percent to 4 percent increase in holiday sales over last year. However in-store and online retails sales increased only 0.7 percent, according to the MasterCard Advisors Spending Pulse report.
Additionally, several major retailers posted holiday sales earnings Jan. 3, showing mixed results.
Compared with last year, Target retail sales increased 0.8 percent, Macy’s sales increased 3.6 percent, Nordstrom increased 9.4 percent and Barnes & Noble decreased 10.9 percent.