Charity begins on the high street, according to a new report which claims the stores boost local businesses, residents and communities.
Researchers for think tank Demos found the volunteer-run shops keep consumers on the high street and drastically reduce the number of empty shops.
The Demos report also found charity shops helped tackle health and social problems, particularly social isolation, with the UK's ageing population.
Ally Paget, a researcher at Demos and the author of the report, said: "It is a real shame that the multitude of benefits offered by charity shops is so often unrecognised and under used, especially in this time of austerity.
"Local authorities can and should do more to support charity shops at a business level, and to draw on the capacity of charity shops to spur local regeneration."