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The UK cities that love a bargain

Last updated: 26/04/2024, 09:13

The UK cities that love a bargain

There’s plenty of second hand shopping going on across the UK - there are lots of online platforms, but on the high street, charity shops are more popular than ever too! Some locations are known for having a fantastic music and books selection on offer, or for stocking vintage designer items. You can also find kilo sales that sell second hand clothes in bulk, as well as clothing swap events, where you pay an entrance fee to exchange preloved items with other sustainability-minded shoppers.

At jog it on, we wanted to find out where the nation’s second hand hotspots are - which cities in the UK love a bargain the most? To find out, we chose 20 cities around Scotland, England and Wales, and worked out how many charity shops there were per capita. Then, we went to TikTok and Instagram to search for hashtags relating to second hand and vintage fashion as well as charity shops. We gave each city a maximum of 80 points based on each of these categories.

Let’s get into the research!

CityCharity shops totalCharity shops per capita x 1000Total TikTok hashtagsinstagram #vintagenumber of postsinstagram #secondhandnumber of postsTotal score
Glasgow1021766#vintageGlasgow14,795#secondhandGlasgow9470
Manchester832175#vintageManchester14,746#secondhandManchester3569
Edinburgh1052313#vintageEdinburgh7,927#secondhandEdinburgh1363
Bristol1141814#vintageBristol3,567#secondhandBristol4762
London2864640#vintageLondon54,816#secondhandLondon136361
Leeds982210#vintageLeeds2,762#secondhandLeeds3056
Sheffield78112#vintageSheffield4,153#secondhandsheffield4650
Cardiff561315#vintageCardiff726#secondhandCardiff343
Reading38120#vintageReading3,797#secondhandReading66643
Liverpool861034#vintageLiverpool3,367#secondhandLiverpool343
Birmingham103105#vintageBirmingham1,626#secondhandBirmingham738
Leicester70141#vintageLeicester636#secondhandLeicester537
Coventry501412#vintageCoventry322#secondhandCoventry030
Nottingham83110#vintagenottingham1,758#secondhandNottingham830
Hull51160#vintageHull932#secondhandHull023
Stoke-on-Trent51130#vintageStokeonTrent46#secondhandStokeonTrent122
Birkenhead110340#vintageBirkenhead4#secondhandBirkenhead021
Preston32100#vintagePreston930#secondhandpreston013
Sunderland33100#vintageSunderland14#secondhandSunderland113
Newport2480#vintagenewport488#secondhandnewport07

Glasgow

The biggest city in Scotland is the UK’s capital of second hand shopping! It scored a total of 70/80. With 102 charity shops, it has the sixth highest number of charity shops per capita in the ranking. The city’s charity shops also got a lot of attention on TikTok, with the third highest number of hashtags at 65. Glasgow was also tagged on Instagram plenty of times, particularly with the hashtag ‘#VintageGlasgow’ which was used on a huge 14,795 posts!

In 2021, two of Glasgow’s charity shops were highlighted by British Vogue in a list of the UK’s best spots for fashion finds - non-profit thrift store Glad Rags and Shelter on Great Western Road. Glasgow is also rich in second hand book shops. One of the most popular is Voltaire & Rousseau Booksellers in the West End, where you can warm your hands by the fire and catch a glimpse of the cute resident cats while you browse.

Manchester

In second place, it’s Manchester (which as a Manchester-based business we’re especially pleased to see)! Manchester scored 69/80 - only a hair’s breadth behind Glasgow. It has the third highest number of charity shops per capita as there are 83, and it was the second most posted on TikTok, with 75 uses of hashtags about the city’s charity shops. On Instagram, ‘#VintageManchester’ was used 14,746 times.

Pop Boutique opened in Manchester’s Afflecks Palace in 1984 and is still there today, stocking handpicked vintage clothes as well as upcycled one-off pieces. Outside the city centre, it’s just a few miles to Pear Mill Vintage Emporium in Stockport to find a huge range of stalls selling antiques, clothing, furniture and other second hand items.

Edinburgh

Scotland is definitely more than pulling its weight in this ranking! Edinburgh ranks in third place, with 63/80. This city has the second highest number of charity shops per capita, with 105 total. The hashtag ‘#EdinburghCharityShops’ was used on TikTok 13 times. Edinburgh was the fourth best performer on Instagram, with the hashtag ‘#VintageEdinburgh’ used 7927 times.

Edinburgh is home to the famous W. Armstrong & Son vintage clothing and accessories emporium, which has four different sites around the city centre. There are also quite a few branches of Shelter around the city, with the branch in the Stockbridge area breaking records in 2023 by raising £30,000 in a week in its January sale, which it is well known for running every year since 2003. The sale is a popular place to find rarities and collectibles such as first editions of books, art prints and designer goods.

Bristol

Next up is Bristol, scoring 62/80. With 114 charity shops, it has the fifth highest number of stores per capita. The hashtag ‘#BristolCharityShops’ was used on TikTok 14 times, almost neck and neck with Edinburgh. On Instagram, Bristol had the fourth highest number of tags relating to second hand shopping, with ‘#SecondHandBristol’ being used 47 times.

Uncle Sam’s American Vintage is Bristol’s oldest vintage shop, having opened in 1984 - head here to find secondhand clothing from American labels, as well as a great selection of vinyl. For second hand books, The Amnesty Bookshop has been open in Bristol for 25 years, raising money for Amnesty International - this affordable bookshop has received especially good reviews from shoppers for its literature and poetry stock. There’s also Dreadnought Books which specialises in history, politics and counterculture topics.

London


Rounding off our top five, it’s London, with 61/80 points. The capital has 286 charity shops. That might sound high but due to the sheer size of the population, it’s not many per capita, making London in fact our lowest scoring city in this category. It did, however, have by far the most mentions on TikTok, with 640 London-centric hashtags. And on Instagram, there were a huge 54,816 posts tagged ‘#VintageLondon’!

Second hand stores of note in London include Atika, which calls itself a vintage department store - spread over two floors, there’s plenty to see. London Architectural Salvage & Supply Co or LASSCO is a great place to find second hand homeware and furniture and even has its own bar. Lastly, camera enthusiasts should check out Nicholas Cameras in Camden.

Leeds

Leeds is next, scoring 56/80. It has the third highest number of charity shops per capita, with 98 to be found in the city.

Blue Rinse is a Leeds original, first trading as a market stall but now expanding to a five storey shop in the city (as well as two more stores in Manchester). There are also several British Heart Foundation shops across the city, with their New Market Street location specialising in furniture.

Sheffield

Not far behind Leeds is another great Yorkshire city. Sheffield has a score of 50/80. It has the fifth highest number of hashtags related to second hand shopping on Instagram, with 46 posts tagged ‘#SecondHandSheffield’.

Glass Onion often tours the UK at vintage markets and pop up events, but their HQ and physical shop are to be found in Sheffield. Emmaus Sheffield has a very popular charity shop at Sipelia Works on Cadman Street, selling bric-a-brac, furniture and clothes - but it is probably even more well known for its two adorable resident pygmy goats!

Cardiff

Cardiff ranks next with 43/80. The city has 56 charity shops and the hashtag ‘#VintageCardiff’ was used 726 times on Instagram.

The Thrift is a vintage superstore housed in a gigantic warehouse space on the Jubilee Trading Estate on East Tyndall Street - it specialises in second hand clothing. The Ethical Boutique raises money for Cardiff charity SAFE and has a celebrity fan in Charlotte Church, who cut the ribbon at the opening event.

Reading

Reading also scored 43/80. ‘#VintageReading’ was used 3797 times on Instagram, along with the hashtag ‘#SecondHandReading’ which was used 666 times, the latter of which made Reading the second highest scoring city in that category.

In Reading, you can find a trendy vintage store called We Are which sells second hand clothing by the kilo. There are also plenty of charity shops to find in the city centre including both an Oxfam Books and an Oxfam Music.

Liverpool

Ranking with exactly the same score as Cardiff and Reading, it’s Liverpool. The city was tagged 34 times on TikTok by fans of its charity shops - it was the fourth most talked about on TikTok in this ranking.

Founded in 1976, 69A is one of Liverpool’s most beloved second hand stores, selling clothing, homeware, vinyl, ornaments, and almost anything else you can think of. Reloved, a charity shop in the Wavetree area, was recently featured in The Sun because of the attention it had been receiving on social media due to being so affordable.

To round off the top ten, Birmingham ranked next with 38/80 - it was followed by Leicester which scored 37/80. Then, Coventry and Nottingham both scored 30/80.

Hull was next, with a score of 23/80. Stoke-on-Trent ranked with 22/80, closely followed by Birkenhead at 21/80.

Preston and Sunderland were a draw both at 13/80, and finally we have Newport at 7/80.

That’s not to say that these places aren’t vintage havens - they might just be less well known for it on social media! Also, having a low number of charity shops per capita isn’t the same thing as lacking in wonderful charity shops - we’re certain there are some real hidden gems for second hand shoppers to enjoy in these towns and cities.

We hope you enjoyed reading our round up of the top UK cities that love a bargain. If you love second hand shopping, we have all sorts of great items up for grabs - try the Clothes, Shoes and Accessories section and you might just find the perfect pair of shades. Or if you are getting ready for barbecue season, have a look at our Home and Garden category to help you find what you need to jazz your patio.

Methodology:

We ranked cities according to their charity shops per capita, and awarded 0-20 points based on where they ranked.

We also ranked cities based on how many times the hashtags ‘#(City)CharityShop’ ‘#(City)CharityShops’, ‘#CharityShop(City)’ and ‘#CharityShops(City)’ were used.

We counted how many times the Instagram hashtag ‘#Vintage(City)’ was used and ranked for this. We also awarded points based on how many times the Instagram hashtag ‘#SecondHand(City)’ was used.

When scoring the cities using the TikTok and Instagram metrics, if they had not been tagged at all they scored 0.

Finally, we added each city’s total points together to see how many each city scored out of a total of 80.

Sources:

https://www.pattonscharityshops.co.uk/shop-finder/

https://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/cities/united-kingdom