And finally…The rise of the ‘Lidl Class’ as cheap becomes cool

PoundlandThe UK’s middles classes are rejecting the supposed stigma attached to shopping at discount stores as they flock to outlets offering goods for a pound or less, according to a new report.

The data collected by retail consultants Him! show that more than half of people who frequent discounters such as Poundland are now among the country’s highest earners.

The study found that 57 per cent of adults in the UK claim to use a discount store every week, with 53 per cent of those people ranking in the top A/B social class.

The proportion of high earners visiting branches of low-cost chains such as 99p Stores, B&M Bargains and Wilkinsons was a huge increase on last year’s level of just 37 per cent.

The news comes as Poundland today reported annual sales of more than £1bn for the first time.

Total sales in the UK and Republic of Ireland rose by 11.8 per cent to £1.1bn, helped by the opening of 60 new stores.

Like-for-like revenues - which strip out the impact of new stores - rose 2.4 per cent in the year to 29 March.

There has also been a massive rise in popularity of Aldi and Lidl, which are attracting increasing numbers of middle-class shoppers looking for a bargain who have since been dubbed the ‘Lidl class’.

Last week, Aldi’s growing share of the grocery market saw it overtake Waitrose to become Britain’s sixth biggest super-market.

B&M Bargains grew its sales by 66 per cent to £1.3 billion last year.

Katie Littler, communications director at Him!, said: “There has been a considerable shift in higher-income households using variety discounters, just as we have seen them using Aldi and Lidl regularly.

“Any stigma is slowly disappearing and they are becoming just another retailer, albeit trusted for a more limited range of missions and categories.”

The report said people who most use variety discounters also tend to be young. Nearly a third are under 34, while two in three of 18 to 24-year-olds say they have visited a variety discounter.

Poundland has been especially successful in attracting young shoppers with 31 per cent visiting a branch in the past week, up from 26 per cent a year ago.

Men are also increasingly visiting cheap chain stores – 44 per cent of males said they had visited a Poundland branch in the previous week, up from 37 per cent a year ago.

Some 57 per cent of shoppers who visit discount stores say they do so to buy confectionary, 54 per cent go for food, 48 per cent for health and beauty products and 40 per cent for household items.

Ms Littler said: “The food and drink items bought are much less about fresh and chilled, which have become the big footfall drivers for Aldi and Lidl.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the report found that average “basket spend” at variety discounters was just £8.93, the lowest for any grocery retailer and behind £11.81 in a convenience store and £31.30 in a supermarket.