04 September, 2020

A ‘phenomenal’ surge of interest in sustainable shopping has helped reduce the financial impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on Harbour Hospice’s 17 shops, although the future is far from assured. After New Zealand entered Level Three and retailers re-opened in May, all of our shops experienced an influx of new customers and turnover exceeded budget well into July, despite operating at reduced hours.

Retail Manager Maria Baird says the shops took a financial hit, but it could have been worse. “It seems that during lockdown, people have considered how they want to shop, and are choosing to shop more sustainably and support local business and charities,” Maria says.

Opening the doors after weeks in the shelter of our bubbles was daunting for the shop managers, who were suddenly responsible for the safety of their volunteers and customers. They faced a volunteer shortage, new health and safety rules, mountains of donated items needing quarantine and customers lining up to be served.

“We must thank the volunteers who helped until the over-70s could return,” Maria says. “We have lots of new volunteers too, and not just people who have lost their jobs – some are saying they have hours to spare and they want to help.” Maria expects both donations and purchases may go down and the true impact of Covid-19 on Hospice’s shops will be felt in the coming months.

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