University of Tasmania

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Sustaining rural communities – A case study of the benefits of charity retail outlets in rural Tasmania

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 15:36 authored by Stuart AucklandStuart Auckland, Jessica WoodroffeJessica Woodroffe, King, AC, Whetton, SG

Background: Charity retail outlets play an important role in rural communities as advocates for disadvantaged communities, outlets for second hand goods and service provision. Little is known about the broader social and economic value that the outlets bring to their host communities. The Centre for Rural Health in Tasmania was commissioned by the St Vincent De Paul Society (Vinnies) to undertake an assessment of its network of 34 retail outlets.

Methods: A mixed method approach generated data about Vinnies retail outlet customer base, their expectations and experiences as well as their shopping habits. Customers were encouraged by outlet staff to complete surveys made available to them at each of the 34 outlets. A series of focus groups with customers were held in regional centres across Tasmania.

Results: A total of 664 surveys were completed, representing an overall response rate of 50.3%. Approximately 75% of respondents were female aged between 45 – 64 years. Over 60% of respondents visited an outlet once a week or more. The most common reason given for visiting an outlet was shopping or looking to “grab a bargain.” Opportunities for social interactions was highly valued particularly with customers accessing outlets in smaller rural communities.

Discussion: Vinnies retail outlets are overwhelming viewed as having broader social and economic benefits to their host communities. In particular, these benefits were evidenced in smaller communities where outlets were valued for providing a space for social interaction, making affordable goods to people on low incomes and building the capacity of communities.


Publication title

2016 SARRAH Conference


School of Health Sciences

Event title

2016 SARRAH Conference

Event Venue

Port Lincoln, South Australia

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Rural and remote area health

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    University Of Tasmania


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