Reopening of charity shops could be hit by the large proportion of older staff considered to be at risk from the coronavirus, a store manager has warned.
Geoffrey Stalker, of the Oxfam book and music shop in Huntingdon which has just re-opened its doors, said opening was “quite a challenge” as about a third of the volunteer staff were delaying their return over health concerns.
He said other charity shops seemed to be struggling to reopen as the coronavirus crisis lockdown was eased because they also relied on older staff.
“I am not sure why the other charity shops are finding it difficult to open but I would guess they have the same problem as us,” Mr Stalker said. “A lot of charity shops rely on older more at risk volunteers but we are fortunate that we have a range of ages.
“I have picked up two volunteers this week who are school age because, obviously, they have a lot of free time at the moment.”
He said: “Even so, we have reduced our opening hours and will not be open on Sunday and Monday.”
Mr Stalker said it was “great” that all the shop’s 20 volunteer staff were planning to come back but reopening had been difficult because around a third were delaying their return.
He said Oxfam had 20 shops in the area but had only opened eight more successful ones, including Huntingdon, which made him feel “quite honoured”.
Mr Stalker said he understood that one charity shop in the town was closing, another was not opening until the end of July and a third did not look like it was going to open soon.
He said a lot of safety measures had been installed at the Oxfam shop, including hand sanitiser at the entrance, a screen around the till and donations were being put aside for three days.
“We are cleaning on a daily basis, we have a one-way system around the shop and have put up a large perspex screen around the counter. We have asked customers to clean their hands and they have reacted well to these measures,” Mr Stalker said.
He said Oxfam had started a coronavirus emergency appeal https://donate.oxfam.org.uk/appeal/coronavirus.