The recession facing Canberrans on this day in 1991 was exemplified by the booming business of op shops, The Canberra Times reported.
General manager of The Smith Family in the ACT Bill Morris said it was common knowledge that second-hand shop sales were breaking records during 1991.
He said sales at The Smith Family's two Canberra shops were certainly at an all-time high, particularly when it came to clothing.
Second-hand bric-a-brac was selling well, but was definitely outstripped by clothes.
Many customers had never bought in a second-hand shop before.
The demand was even higher at the charity's other clothing outlet, which was set up in a big room attached to its welfare service and where clothing was freely provided to people who were in need.
These were mainly young mothers trying to clothe whole families, and there was a particular demand for baby clothes.
Mr Morris said there was about 40 per cent more people seeking help compared to the previous year. In 1990, about 9000 people in the ACT reached for help; In 1991, the numbers jumped to 13,000.
While demand had increased, economic factors were blamed for a falling supply of clothing donations in 1991. Because of the recession people had not been buying as much new clothing so wardrobes were not getting cleared out.
Mr Morris said The Smith Family was slightly behind target in 1991 and was desperate for cash.
In 1991, it was aiming to provide food hampers for 1000 families and toy parcels for 2200 children.