MORE discount shops are opening on the high street, a new report had revealed.
And they are attracting a bigger number of wealthier shoppers, according to research backed by the British Property Federation.
The report showed that the number of discount stores in the UK rose by 60% in the past two years to more than 1,400.
It also claimed that for every one that has closed during the recession, two have opened.
Yorkshire emerges as the region with the third highest number of discount stores – 137. It is behind London with 357 outlets and south-east England with 250, but ahead of the north-west with 135.
Huddersfield’s New Street shopping parade boasts several stores.
The customer profile for discount stores – which include retailers such as Poundland, Poundworld, 99p Stores and Huddersfield-based Instore – have also drastically changed, the report said.
Poundland, for example, has seen a 22% rise in the numbers of shoppers from the richer AB group. Traditionally, their target market has driven by females in the low-wage C2, D and E socio-economic groups.
The report said the change had occurred because discount retailers have moved into more affluent areas such as Cambridge, Oxford, Stratford upon Avon and Tunbridge Wells.
Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, 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 – particularly as Gordon Brown is continuing to hurt businesses by making them pay full business rates on empty space.
“The rise has also been fuelled by the demise of Woolworths leaving more prime spots available.”
She said some of the UK’s biggest retail property owners, including British Land, Land Securities and St Modwen all had pound store tenants.
“The increase in discount stores represents a marked change in the psychology of shoppers,” she said.
“Rather than shopping for a particular good or commodity, people are going out with a set sum of cash knowing that they will be able to get a specific number of items. And in practice they often end up buying more.”
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 in the expanding frame of mind.”