One of the questions I’m asked basically all of the time by people visiting London or the UK is, “Are there Dollar Stores in the UK or London?”
Whether you’re wondering if there’s a Dollar Tree in the UK or questioning whether there’s a Family Dollar in London, Americans seem to be all about the cheap deals and we want to know if we can find them across the pond.
Hey, sidenote! If you’re traveling to the UK, whether for a short period of time or as an expat, why don’t you join my Facebook group where you can ask questions, get advice or just look at pretty pictures of this part of the world! Just click here to request to join and I’ll add you!
Before I dig into the question of dollar stores in the UK or England or London, I wanted to first point out that the UK uses pounds as their currency, not dollars, so automatically you might be asking the wrong question if you’re wondering about a dollar store in London!
Because the answer to…
Is there a dollar store in the UK or London or England?
is no. Of course there’s no dollar stores in the UK and no Dollar Trees in the UK as there are no dollars!
However, there ARE pound stores in the UK, so the essence of dollar stores definitely lives on.
Before we get too deep into dollar stores in the UK or why there are no dollar stores in the UK, there are a couple of things I need to share with you given that you’re either planning a trip to the UK or live there.
It takes everything you think you know about the UK and either explains it or shows you what you’re really getting yourself into (major small talk and frequent tea breaks, woo!)
Secondly, I’ve got some resources below that are specifically aimed at helping travelers and expats adjust to their time in the UK.
Whether you’re a study abroad student in London looking for tips on studying abroad in London or a short-term traveler who just wants to know the difference between a pence and a pound, these resources are for you!
You’ll learn all about my experiences driving in the UK, as well as the best ways to move forward from culture shock when it all becomes a little less glam and a little more sad (that was supposed to rhyme, but I couldn’t think of a good word to rhyme with glam that had to do with culture shock, my bad).
- Culture Shock: The Things We Don’t Talk About
- An American Girl’s Guide to Surviving the London Underground
- Understanding UK Money: Pence, Not Cents!
- Driving in England as an American: An Apology to UK Drivers
Anyway, moving along to dollar stores and Dollar Tree in the UK!
History of Dollar Stores in the UK
As discussed, there are no dollar stores in the UK or London, which means there is no Family Dollar in the UK or Dollar Tree in the UK or Dollar General in the UK or London.
However, there is a history to pound stores in the UK, which started in the 1990s on UK high streets by a father and son entrepreneur team. They drew their inspiration from the first dollar store in America.
Over the years, these stores have drawn customers like nobody’s business, as everyone loves getting things for a pound.
However, there have been critiques of pound stores by local residents who think that they bring house prices down, draw the wrong crowd, and generally don’t add to the atmosphere of a village or town.
This didn’t stop pound stores from proliferating in the past decades, but as recently as 2018, studies suggest that pound stores are on the decline.
Reasons suggested include changing retail environments, too much competition between stores and the difficulty for shops to retain their profitability.
However, pound stores in the UK aren’t going anywhere yet, so let’s move on to…
Equivalent to Dollar Stores in the UK
There aren’t any dollar stores in the UK, but the closest thing to dollar stores like Dollar Tree and Dollar General are pound stores with similar names!
Poundland is one of the most popular UK pound shops, founded in 1990 and selling the majority of its stock for £1.
There are currently almost 900 locations across the UK and the iconic teal and yellow logo are well-known.
You can find basically everything in a Poundland, from batteries to clothes to food to toothpaste. At one point they even sold knives, but stopped this in 2017 after a wave of knife attacks.
Poundstretcher is another pound store, though less popular than Poundland. It’s been in operation since the 1980s and had about 335 stores across the UK at its peak.
Poundstretcher sells a variety of items including hair products, towels, homegoods, drinks, candy and more. It’s seen as a bit more “down market” than a Poundland (if that’s even possible), and it was the subject of a documentary featuring its attempt to revitalize.
Poundworld is actually no longer open – it’s defunct as of 2018, but I included it to both show how pound stores are closing and to mention what a powerhouse it was in the UK.
It used to be Poundland’s biggest competitor, but problems with its items priced higher than £1 and the competition on high streets between pound shops meant that it lost out and is forever closed.