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Why more Cumbrians are turning to bargain shopping

Not so long ago ‘bargain shopping’ didn’t have a great image. It brought to mind drab stores, selling poor quality goods at rock-bottom prices.

Bargain shopping photo
Tony and Ailsa Paterson with son Lewis

But in this post credit-crunch world, it seems to be getting a makeover, thanks in part to a new group of people doing it.

They have been dubbed by economists as the ‘nouveaux pauvres’, or ‘new poor’.

Put simply they are middle class people who are currently short on cash.

A report publishes last week from IGD, a charity which carries out research into the food and grocery industry, said almost a third, 31 per cent of the shoppers they surveyed said they would be heading for discount supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl in the next year.

Their figure showed 39 per cent of parents in the highest income groups have said they would be using these types of stores.

This is in contrast to 30 per cent of their counterparts in groups with the lowest incomes.

Joanne Denney-Finch, the organisation’s chief executive, said events like the Jubilee weekend and the Euro 2012 football tournament had helped Britain’s grocery industry.

“The underlying trend, however, is still one of shoppers putting in more effort into their food shopping while contending with considerable pressures on their household budgets.

“Even better-off shoppers, especially those with children, are looking to discount stores to save money as they feel the squeeze. While they remain a small part of the overall grocery market – representing just 4.5 per cent – discounters have been broadening their appeal to help even higher-income shoppers to tighten their belts.”

In Cumbria, discount supermarkets appear to be very popular.

At the Kingstown Road branch of Aldi, a number of shoppers told the News & Star why they had chosen to shop there.

“We like the quality of a lot of the stuff that’s in there and we actually find a lot of things in there that we quite like,” said firefighter Tony Paterson, 32, of Lowry Hill, Carlisle, who was loading a trolley full of shopping into his car with wife Ailsa, 35, and two-year-old son Lewis looking on.

He explained that the family was spending more money on food since the birth of their child and find they are saving money by shopping there rather than the nearby Morrisons supermarket

Ailsa, who works as a paramedic, added: “Just because it is cheaper.”

John Hetherington, a 57-year-old chemical factory process operator from Gretna, also explained he did about a third of his shopping there.

He encouraged people to “move away from the bargain image” that the store has.

This point was echoed by Joe Roberts, 61, a security manager from Belle Vue, Carlisle.

He said: “There’s something for everybody here really.”

Joe also said he saves three to four pounds each time he shops here as opposed to other supermarkets.

Rosemary Harkness, 74, and her husband Kenneth, of Greta Avenue, Carlisle, both appreciated the staff, while fellow retiree Ronald Sparkes, 89, from Brisco, commented on the store’s image.

“I know people with titles who shop here,” he said.

All of the shoppers questioned admitted that they could not get everything they needed at a bargain supermarket and still had to go to other stores to complete their big shops.

This point was emphasised by a spokesman for Morrisons, who pointed out that the bargain supermarkets often offer a very small number of brands.

“At Morrisons we carry a range of different brands, some of which are designed to appeal to customers looking for something a little bit special but we also have a new Morrisons value range.” he said.

The spokesman added that his supermarket’s pricing research had shown that buying this particular stock would work out cheaper for shoppers than heading to the discount supermarkets.

Suzanne Caldwell, head of communications at Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, thinks the belt-tightening middle classes are going to be economically important in the county’s future.

“It does seem to be a growing trend and I think it is the middle that doesn’t appears to be sure of anything.

“I’m aware a number of people are choosing to shop at Aldi and Lidl but you can go into Marks and Spencer and it is as packed as ever.

“People are putting more thought into how they do their shopping.”

Suzanne believes that shoppers are economising for a lot of their shopping and saving money for a few luxury items.

“People are looking for value and being more selective.”

But it is not just the people spending money that has changed bargain shopping. The places they go have adapted to suit their needs.

In the past people changed their tastes when things got tough and they needed to tighten their belts.

In this recession the changes are coming from the businesses supplying them.

Once bargain supermarkets was shorthand for frozen and tinned food. Now they are catering for shoppers with more exotic tastes and you will frequently find frozen venison shoulder and cartons of gazpacho soup sitting alongside boxes of fish fingers and bottles of soft drinks.

And it’s not just supermarkets where you can see these changes.

Ground coffee used to only be available at upmarket chains staffed by professional baristas. while now shops as diverse as McDonalds and Greggs the Bakers offer lattes and cappuccinos.

So while the current economic situation may be tough, there are definitely opportunities there for clever businesses.

The full details on IGD’s study can be found at www.igd.com.

Have your say

I didn't think there were any Middle Class people in Cumbria?

Posted by Tory Toff on 10 July 2012 at 23:29

Its quite simple really, the reason people are going to bargain shops is because we are all suffering a shortage of cash, its important to eat and pay the rent etc, and even if the quality of the goods is not always to our satisfaction it does the job.

Posted by Danleo on 8 July 2012 at 08:50

View all 4 comments on this article

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