A very long time ago, I was planning on doing a comparison between Poundland and normal supermarkets (The ones that have variable prices on their products). I was fairly sure that apart from a few loss leaders, it was inevitable that you would end up spending more money in Poundland (or receiving less for your money) than you would elsewhere. Unfortunately, I never got round to doing it.

The good news is, that Channel 4 have done a dispatches documentary, hosted by Harry Wallop, about it, and I must say that they have done a much better job that I could have done with it. You can watch the documentary on 4OD here: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/4od#3414037

I enjoyed watching the documentary, I felt it hit on the key points really well (Even ones that I hadn’t realized). And now for some spoilers! It explains how although Poundland does sell many big brands, it often sells products are are subtly different shapes and sizes to those found in most retailers – a bottle of cleaning spray for example might be a taller bottle than elsewhere, but it will probably be a smaller volume.

They also mention the cheeky marketing that is used, a large number of the products say “50% Extra Free” or something similar, to try and make you think that you are buying a special offer, even though there isn’t really any promotional reduction at all. It turns out however that there have been times when Poundland has downsized it’s offers (i.e. From “5+3″ to “4+3″) and ended up increasing the proportions of the saving (i.e “50% Extra Free” to “60% Extra Free”).

The show points out that Poundland hasn’t been so great at beating inflation as they might claim, over the years, they have reduced quite significantly the amount that they will sell you for £1. Multipacks of crisps have been halved and packs of biscuits have decreased substantially. They also performed a price comparison, but weren’t really as successful as I thought that they would be.

Phantom brands are mentioned, however in my opinion I don’t have as much of a problem with the clearly own brand look of the products that poundland sell. In fact I would quite like to see a documentary about ALDI and their very obvious plagiarism of leading brands.

One of the most worrying things that the documentary pointed out was the safety of the products. They found that one of the children’s toys that they were selling was quite a fire hazard!

I recommend anyone who likes Poundland watches the documentary, I hope it makes you think twice about shopping there. And anyone who doesn’t like Poundland should watch it too so they can feel smug about hating it for all these years!