Discount outlets and unbranded goods are the new normal, and perhaps even the new chic.
As thrift becomes a way of life for many across the income spectrum, discount outlets and unbranded goods are the new normal, and perhaps even the new chic (the Duchess of Cambridge is reportedly a fan of an upscale outlet center in Oxfordshire). According to new Mintel research, only about a third of high-income households in the U.S. (annual income above $150,000) say they don’t shop at dollar stores, and about half say they are shopping there as much this year as last (10 percent, meanwhile, are shopping there more). “Dollar and discount stores benefit from continued consumer caution regarding spending, as well as an improved level of acceptance and satisfaction of the products offered and the shopping experience in these channels,” says Ali Lipson, retail analyst at Mintel.
Dollar stores aren’t the only value-focused retailers feeling flush. This week Ikea reported sales growth in markets including North America. Aldi has become the U.K.’s fastest-growing retailer by targeting affluent areas and offering some higher-end items like ground Colombian coffee and sirloin steak. And private-label brands, which have been improving in quality and packaging, have seen double the growth of national brands in the U.S. over the past three years, according to Nielsen. Sales have held up since these products started attracting shoppers during the recession, “to the surprise of consumer and food analysts,” reports The New York Times.
In the U.K., thriftiness has become so prevalent, JWT London has found that 92 percent of Britons are deploying one or more of a range of coping mechanisms to save money: using money-off coupons (58 percent) and loyalty points (53 percent), checking price-comparison tools (54 percent), etc. And Barclays has identified the Bargain Hunter Gatherer: “an expert at collecting the best tools, voucher codes and loyalty cards to make their budget go as far as possible, week in, week out.” That’s a time-consuming effort, but it beats selling one’s own organs for profit.
Image credits: Aldi