When I was a young lad growing up in Lancashire suggestions that you might buy anything from a ‘pound shop’ were clearly made as a put down.

It was a classic 80’s insult ranking alongside Doofus, Der-brain, Scrubber, Wazzock and many others that have rightly long since felt the swinging axe of the PC executioner.

However, times have changed.  Cries of “You shop at a pound store, you shop at a pound store”  no longer deliver the same calibre of injury they once did.

A new breed of Bargain Stores –  B&M Bargains, Home Bargains PoundLand – are on the rise and they are here to stay. In fact in 2013 they were the fastest growing retailers in both penetration, spend and share, outstripping even the likes of discounters such as ALDI & LIDL. Bargain stores are winning at the expense of the Big 4, the premium tier & from discounters.

An amazing 31% of UK shoppers visited a bargain store in 2013. These shoppers coming from every demographic and every income segment.

So what’s happening here?

Clearly this rise is set against a time of economic hardship. However, we feel there is something more happening here. We think bit by bit these bargain stores are taking away barriers to usage, both functional and emotional and replacing them with positive reasons to choose.

For example…

You can now get the brands you know, love & recognise. Gone are the dodgy Kyrgyzstan imports, and those 5 year-out-of-date products from the back of the factory.

The shopping experience is enjoyable. There is no longer piles of stuff heaped to the roof. Instead stores cleverly navigate you through products that might be incremental purchases to products that are more destination focused.

These bargain stores are increasingly conveniently located on High Streets making their physical availability strong.


The brands you’d buy anyway but for less money.  That sounds like a very smart choice. That sounds like a great idea. That sounds like a powerful proposition.

Powerful enough to win over the Forge! As part of a recent field trip on a project the whole team joined the penetration statistics and we can regularly be found nipping over Putney Bridge to stock up on key items.

Bargain stores? You are awesome, bodacious and tubular!

So much so that we think they pose some big questions for the more established retailers? How do they address this challenge? Do they try and fight on price? Do they concentrate on a superior shopping experience? Do they focus on certain product areas?

They also pose questions for brand owners. Not least of which is how do you manage your brand being available at such different price points? How will that affect people’s perceptions and feelings?

One thing we do know courtesy of Marty McFly provides guidance on the future range strategy “Doc, you don’t just walk into a store and buy… plutonium. Did you rip that off?"

With thanks to Editor5807 for the image