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.
Firstly, no matter your reason for being here, you need the best book on living in the UK for Americans ever written – the book is called “Girl Gone London: An American’s Guide to Surviving Life in the UK” and you should click here and check it out.
I also may have written it, so I’m biased. But truly, if you’re coming to the UK as an expat, a study abroad student, or even a visitor, my guide to life in the UK contains both personal anecdotes and maybe too-honest experiences, as well as resources and advice on topics ranging from homesickness in the UK (or how not to rage book a flight to America like I did), driving in the UK, being a student in the UK, and more practical advice about bank accounts, buying houses, and more.
It’s truly a one stop shop for all of the weirdness and wonderfulness (is that a word?) that comes along with life in the UK, and also there is plenty of opportunity to laugh at me as I share all of my expat fails so there’s that.
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.
Coming to London Soon?
Hey! Since you’re here I’m assuming you’re intent on visiting this amazing city soon! Getting the lowdown on the hottest spots in town can be time consuming so I took the liberty of picking out some great ones below. Hope you enjoy!
Open Top Bus London Tour: Double Decker buses are not only a way of transportation in London, but a definitive pastime of the city dwellers. This tour lets you see London by night and experience a true right of passage that every Londoner must complete. A two for one YAY!
Kew Gardens: If you want to explore some of the calmer areas of the city, I highly recommend exploring the botanicals at Kew Gardens. London’s largest World Heritage site boasts acres of gardens in a royal glass palace because, yes, everything here gets the royal treatment.
Afternoon Tea Cruise on River Thames: Oh so you’ve come to London looking for tea? Lucky for you theres literally MILLIONS of options to choose from… it can actually get overwhelming. So I made it easy for you and found one of the best teas in town, complete with the best setting as well!