THREE charity shop bosses in Swindon say they have been hit hard by the second lockdown.

All non-essential shops, including charity shops, were required to shut on November 5.

Unable to take donations, despite an increase in people having a clear-out at home and unable to make sales, staff expect income to plummet.

Allison Swaine-Hughes, retail director of the British Heart Foundation which has a branch in Bridge Street said: “We’re extremely grateful to the people of Swindon for their continued support.

“The charity sector has been hit especially hard by the pandemic and we expect our fundraising income to be cut in half this year alone. But there are still ways you can support us during the lockdown. Our online shop is the ideal place to find Christmas cards, accessories and gifts for the festive season.”

Peter Mallinson, director of the Walcot Community Shop on Sommerville Road said: “We closed the shop as all our staff are in the vulnerable category, we haven’t been able to reopen since March. I don’t want to put anyone at risk and we aren’t big enough for social distancing.

“It’s going to be a tough few months but we want to make sure we can help others. We only have what we have.”

“People miss coming in as we are a bit different to the other charity shops, we chat and people stay for the socialising.”

Several shops have set up on an online platform for sales and some can still take donations. But even when they are open restrictions take their toll. Carol Gibbon, Survivor shop manager in The Parade said: “All this has had an impact on the income we generate and it’s frustrating when we see how much the takings are down at the end of the day.

“Our reduced hours, the restrictions on what we can and cannot sell, and how we sell it under social distancing regulations is all to blame.

We also feel very sad and frustrated because we have valued customers who rely on us for clothing, household items, children’s toys etc. Many cannot afford to buy new and we are able to offer preloved items for a fraction of the price.”

The lockdown is currently due to be lifted on December 2 and when shops reopen donations will have to be stored for 72 hours or cleaned before being displayed on the shop floor.