As savvy shoppers scour the high street for deals and seek better value in their purchases discount retailers continue to boom, but what of their future when the economy bounces back?

There’s plenty of evidence to show that several years of recession has seen the discount retail market grow significantly. Value retailers took up the majority of new space in out of town retail parks during 2011, according to Trevor Wood Associates’. Research from consultancy Kantar Worldpanel showed Aldi grew sales by 26.1% and Lidl sales increased 11.5% in the 12 weeks to July 8, despite growth in the grocery sector as a whole dipping 2.1% during the period.

However, there is some debate over whether discount retailers will continue to prosper once the economy recovers. I believe that they will, but they will also have to adapt.

Our perception of value retail has changed. Once associated with low quality and scoring low in social acceptance, this stigma has gone and they are no longer just the preserve of the discount shopper, but an integral part of a smart shopper’s repertoire. They are reaching a much wider audience and given their growth in store numbers and subsequent geographical reach, this is very likely to continue.

Our new perception and acceptance of discount stores has extended to their product line. Through greater awareness, extremely clever marketing, and the priority they give to stocking some higher quality product lines, as well as our ownexperiences, we’ve come to acknowledge that discount stores don’t always mean low quality goods. In fact, their offering is often perceived to be just asgood, and sometimes better, than their higher priced counterparts.

IGD findings support this premise. Shoppers have reported that perceptions of discounters have changed over the years, with 81% of regular discount food shoppers believing that the quality of products has improved (October 2011).

Family spending habits have changed too. Lone parents have increased substantially and now account for nearly a quarter of all families, subsequently the shape of family spending patterns has evolved to accommodate this. These families are typically under more financial pressure and therefore support the trend towards savvy shopping. If you agree with the mums who took part in the Asda Mumdex survey – 43% think that the UK economy will never be the same again – then the changes in habits that we’ve seen look set to continue and with that the prolonged survival and growth of the discount retailer.

Valuenomics is here to stay. The net effect of this prolonged recession is that consumers now question value more often than they used to. Not just on price, which is clearly at the heart of a discounters proposition, but also in the true sense of the word ‘value’ – is it good quality? Does it surprise me? Is it worth the effort to go to multiple shops? And as long as value retailers continue to deliver against these criteria they will still have arole to play, continuing to prosper when the good times roll.

Dorina D’Ambrosio