Oxfam online charity shop makes £5 million in its first year

It’s just over 12 months since I posted news of Oxfam launching an online charity shop offering donated items from its network of highstreet charity shops and the great news is that in its first year this volunteer-staffed online initiative has apparently raised £5 million.

Oxfam’s news release announcing this great success explains that the shop offers a range of new products as well as gifts from its extremely successful Oxfam Unwrapped virtual gifts catalogue – so I’m not clear quite how much the virtual gifts income might have underpinned this first year performance. However, the 12 month donated goods sales data is still really impressive, including 4,000 books and CDs, 1,200 bags, and 3,000 dresses and skirts.

The site currently attracts over 30,000 shoppers per week, with 100,000 product listings including donated stock sourced from 50 Oxfam shops around the country – and the plan for 2009 is to increase this to 250,000 products.

According to a recent report by retail specialists Verdict Research, Internet sales currently represent 6.7% of all retail spend in the UK, totaling £19.4bn – but are forecast to grow by 129% over the next four years. This compared to only 5% growth in high street retail.

With this in mind, even taking into account the effect of the current economic situation on consumer spending, in the medium to long-term it looks like online charity shops such as Oxfam is pioneering here could be an important source of income growth for those charities currently running traditional high street charity shops.

Alternately, if this type of e-commerce operation seems out of reach for your organisation then, as I mentioned in my earlier post about the Oxfam launch, there’s always eBay for Charity – which has undergone a significant refresh over the last year and is well worth a look.