Are there too many charity shops in Diss?

Diss, Norfolk. New Charity Shop which is due to open for the YMCA at the old Diss Discount ANL-140723-172343009
Diss, Norfolk. New Charity Shop which is due to open for the YMCA at the old Diss Discount ANL-140723-172343009

With a tenth charity shop soon to open its doors on Mere Street, Diss, some residents are beginning to ask: How many is too many?

The new YMCA store, which opens next month, will take the place of the former Diss Discount store, which has moved further up Mere Street.

Some have expressed their views on the Diss Express Facebook page and on other social media. One said: “If you want to purchase overpriced second-hand stuff then Diss is the town for you”. Another said: “I do like charity shops, but that’s a few too many”.

Others, however, added that a charity shop was still better than a closed one.

Charity shops provide vital funds for good causes and have also been praised for their contribution to recycling unwanted items.

And Oliver Chapman, retail property expert at TW Gaze, said: “When a new shop is let it always seems to be a charity shop or a betting shop; but actually, as an overall percentage of shops in town, the number is relatively low, at around ten to 15 percent.

“Mud is being slung at everybody, including the town council, but charity shops are an inevitable consequence of market forces. Their business model means that they are able to pay higher rents, with more security, than other businesses.”

All UK charities are eligible for a ‘mandatory relief’ of 80 per cent on their business rates, and local councils then have the option to provide additional relief of up to 20 per cent on top of this.

South Norfolk Council, however, does not provide any additional relief for charities. A spokesman said they are “committed to working with local market towns to ensure that they are in the best possible shape to attract shoppers, tourists, and businesses.”

She added: “There are currently no instances in South Norfolk where a discretionary relief has been applied.”

A spokesman for Diss Business Forum, made up of local business people from Diss and the surrounding area, added: “Many people are saying that the charity shops are increasing footfall to the town, which looks to be a good thing, although only time will tell.”

n We want to hear your views. Use the contact details on page 8 and tell us what you think.