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Discount retailers increase high street presence

publication date: Oct 1, 2009
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Pound shopDiscount retailers have increased by 60 per cent during the last two years according to new research by the Local Data Company backed by the British Property Federation (BPF).

Just under half of the 1,423 discount stores across Great Britain are in London and the South East and for every one discount retailer that closes, two have opened. Regions with the most discount shops include Greater London (357 outlets), the South East (250), Yorkshire & The Humber (137) and the North West (135).

Customer bases have also drastically changed. Poundland, for example, has seen a 22 per cent increase in the numbers of shoppers from the richer AB group. Traditionally, their target market has driven by females in the C2, D and E socioeconomic groups. The change has occurred because discount retailers have moved into more affluent areas such as Cambridge, Oxford and Tunbridge Wells.

Liz Peace, chief executive of the BPF, said, “Whatever opinions people may have about pound stores, they are growing in popularity and more importantly, generate jobs and footfall that benefits other retailers on the high street. This is good for landlords who would much rather have a discount retailer than an empty store. British Land, Land Securities, Prupim, St Modwen and Westfield all have pound store tenants.”

Ian Parish, head of retail at property agents BNP Paribas Real Estate, said, “Discount retailers have undoubtedly seen an opportunity to acquire new stores at rents more easily viable for them when they are selling goods at lower margins than their more mainstream counterparts. Clearly, this sector is also seeing a wider customer base walking through its doors with household budgets stretched and, combined with cheaper rents, this seems to be leading them on the expansion trail. Given the current vacancy rate, I’m sure the property industry is very happy that these operators are expanding.”