CHARITY shops have seen a boom in trade as the cost of living continues to bite.

Some charity shops in Tavistock have seen an upsurge in customers in the past year, with the biggest increase in the past three months as inflation hits the pocket and people look to second hand goods as their first option, over buy-new shops.

Joan Meedes, manager of St Luke’s Hospice shop, said: ‘We have definitely seen a lot more customers come through the door in the last few months.

‘The most popular items are clothing and gifts. It’s been a tremendous increase. Obviously, recently there’s been a preference for warm clothing as its colder now.

‘Now it’s nearer Christmas, we’ve hardly any gifts left as people are looking to make their money go further. We are always very pleased to receive more donations to keep stocks up.’

She said the amount of donations had remained steady, but more were needed to keep up with demand.

Sue Bamford, environmental artist and art teacher, was browsing in St Luke’s for anything that took her fancy. By coincidence, she found black coat she had earlier bought for a friend, but which did not fit and was returned to the shop - but only after Sue mended it.

She said: ‘I love looking around charity and secondhand shops even if I don’t have anything in mind — it’s the thrill of chase.

‘You never know what you might find, like this coat. The fact it’s been recycled yet again, really appeals to me and underlines the sustainable nature of secondhand trade.’

The sustainable nature of rewearing other people’s clothes is a philosophy underlying her artistic work and what she teaches her students.

‘There’s so much wrong with the fashion industry because it’s based on a model that’s non-sustainable and bad for the environment basis, ie to keep producing clothes so cheaply on a wear once and throw-away basis.’

She added: ‘I was always brought up to make the most of my budget from an early age. When I was a teenager my mum gave me the state benefit called the family allowance and I was told to clothe myself on my ‘share’, which was £14 a week. I’ve always shopped locally and more and more people are realising how they can dress well and in better made clothes this way.’

Margaret Laudet and her daughter Jean shopped in Woodside animal charity shop. They said they go for charity shops first, rather than the buy-new stores. Jean said: ‘If we’re wanting something specific, we try the charity shops. It’s much more acceptable to wear secondhand now. Our motto is quality and price. We can easily get both in charity shops.’

Tracey Holland, Woodside shop manager, said she has seen a doubling in income in the past year: ‘Demand is sometimes outstripping supply. But we can always get more supplies from our other shops when we’re low. We do have a lot of regular loyal animal lovers, but no we’re seeing more new customers. They mostly looking for clothes.’

She said there was increasing need for support for homeless animals as rising costs and the pandemic meant people could not afford to keep their pets.

Debbie Holland, Tavistock Areas Support Services shop manager, said: ‘Clothing and essentials are in high demand. People are buying several coats or jumpers.’