When the recession hit in 2008, unemployment rose, incomes fell, and families started to struggle. But while several companies vied to survive, discount shops went from strength to strength.
The economy has now turned a corner, with wages rising and unemployment falling, yet many people are still exercising restraint when it comes to shopping for daily essentials like food and clothes. Of course, that means the discount stores are still doing well. In April, Aldi replaced Waitrose to become the sixth largest supermarket retailer and Poundland saw its turnover break £1bn for the first time.
A report from The Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimated that around 12 million people in the UK live below the level most of us regard as the minimum needed to participate in society, and thus our reliance on bargain shops is likely to continue for some time.
This may have arguably started a price war. Take, for example, when Tesco promised to match the reductions of Aldi and Lidl under its “Price Promise” regime, while it also offered customers savings on petrol. Indeed, big retailers have started to fight back by employing various techniques to lure back consumers – namely through the use of sales.
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Taking this concept into account, Love The Sales founder Stuart McClure spotted a gap in the online market. Instead of simply linking to a website that had a sale, the company would crunch over two million products twice a day and display all those products on its site.
Essentially, Love The Sales collates sale items across fashion, beauty, electronics, and homeware at reduced prices, from brands such as ASOS, Topshop, Apple and L’Oreal.
“Most people think sales are reserved for certain times of the year – January sales, mid-season sales and so on,” McClure said in an interview. “But, that’s not the case. Every single day of the year there are a huge number of discounted products available from well-loved brands and retailers. We help people find those deals and see them side by side, rather than having to go off to a variety of sites.”
The founding team understood there was a large audience of brand conscious individuals out there, but the reality was that most had to stick to a specific budget.
“I was a young father and so spent a lot of time looking for bargains,” McClure said. “It was always time consuming and the sales sites that did exist weren’t very good. You could sign up to flash sale sites that forced you to give up details in return for just a small selection of sales, or you could go to sites that simply told you one retailer had a sale and link you to their home page.
“After a few years I realised this could be made so much easier and so I set about building a team that could make this proposition a reality.”
First of all, it’s just obvious that people love the sales, he said. Every boxing day people go nuts online and the economy meant people needed to make as much out of their spending as possible.
“I talked to a lot of people about the idea of the site, and every single one said it would be great,” he said. “I also did a lot of research on the amount of money spent during sales periods. All of this made me realise that people wanted a service like this – consumers want to be able to save money on the things and to find those bargains quickly and easily.”
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