More new foot traffic in Goodwill stores, but local sales are flat

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA (WWBT) - In this tough economy, Goodwill stores nationwide are seeing an up tick in their sales. But recent numbers show something different here in Metro Richmond.

There's a lot more foot traffic going through the Goodwill's in Metro Richmond. It comes right when people are shopping for the big back to school time and they are trying to save as much as they can.

Many of those shoppers are only recently scanning the shelves, just like Addie Smith is doing these days.

"We are hunters. We are former antique dealers," said Addie.

She's hunting for the bargains, especially now in the tough economy.

"We want to take care of our grandchildren and grown children as much as possible. We can come here and find things that are more reasonable," she said.

Even those longtime shoppers like Laura Judy continue to shop at the discount store often, as she is noticing the bigger crowds among her.

"There are people of all walks of life," said Laura.

"(People) really stretching their dollar at a time when everybody is looking to do that," said Goodwill Communication Manager Ellen Thornhill.  Nationally, Goodwill sales are up 6.2% compared to this time last year. But here in Metro Richmond, sales are flat.

"Yes, of course it's some concern but we think relative to traditionally retail, we are doing very well," added Thornhill.

While the racks are stocked these days, there is a concern that donations will drop as people hold onto more of their clothes and other items, instead of donating them to the Goodwill.

That hurts their overall mission because about 85% of the revenue generated through Goodwill goes into programs that provide job training and career development services to people in need.

If those donations to go down, it would eventually hurt parents like Angela Caldwell.

"I'm going to have to spend twice the money and I'm going to struggle twice as hard," Caldwell said.

"Once you get that bug it's hard to get rid of hunting for goodies," said Addie.

Yet, with the economy expected to turn around, Goodwill doesn't think those bargain hunters like Addie will leave this store for good.

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