Fifty three years ago (1962), Chubby Checker had a hit parade smash success with “Limbo Rock” which had the memorable strap line “How Low Can You Go?!”. It sounds like the clarion call of the UK grocery industry this year!
£poundstretcher is a small grocery chain from the UK which competes in the dollar/pound league rubbing shoulders with Poundland and 99p Stores. At the end of the last fiscal year, £poundstretcher had around 400 stores and £400 million in sales. Whereas the supermarket big boys tremble at the onslaught of the hard discounters Aldi and Lidl, the likes of £poundstretcher look them in the eye and say “Bring it on!”. Last month, £poundstretcher advertisements in the press exhorted shoppers to see how much they can save by shopping with them rather than with “pricey” Aldi and Lidl! The hard discounters emphasise the great value associated with their Aldi/Lidl exclusive brands. £poundstretcher shouts “Try and match us on national brands!”. The pound shops are not being altruistic with their under a pound pricing. They are aided and abetted by the major fmcg companies who are ready and willing to produce pack sizes that meet this rock bottom round price amount.
Relative small fry although the pound shops may be, they are in the same shopper pond as the German hard discounters. It reminds us that “we’re the lowest price retailer come and shop here” has always has provoked a competitor to emerge with an even lower price offer. Good news for the consumer? Maybe but remember the insightful words of quixotic Oscar Wilde: “”Nowadays, people know the price of everything and the value of nothing”! Chubby Checker’s Limbo Rock song lyrics don’t compete with the plays of Oscar Wilde but, on grocery prices, “How Low Can You Go?”!