Forget Waitrose - high earners are more likely to shop at food discount stores such as Aldi and Lidl than the poorest families, according to new research.
More than three out of four people who earn more than £50,000 a year shop at food discounters (77 per cent), compared to 73 per cent of those with a household income of £15,500 or less.
And premium products are pulling better off shoppers into discount food stores, suggests the research by consumer analysts Mintel.
Two out of three shoppers (66 per cent) say that food discounters’ premium ranges are just as good as elsewhere, with only seven per cent disagreeing with the statement.
And, even when entertaining, well-off shoppers are not afraid to stock up with the discounters, according to the report.
Almost half of food discount shoppers with a household income above £50,000 (47 per cent) have bought party items from the stores in the past three months - up from an average of 36 per cent of shoppers.
Overall, 89 per cent of Brits shop at discount retailers, with 84 per cent visiting non-food discounters and 74 per cent visiting food discounters.
And young adults are leading the trend with 93 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds having visited either a food or non-food discounter in the last three months.
Nick Carroll, senior research analyst at Mintel, said: “High income households are just as likely to shop at food discounters as lower income ones.
“The post-recession success of leading discount food retailers has been built on a softening of their hard discount roots and bringing in ranges which appeal to a wider variety of consumers.
“A part of this success has been the introduction of more premium ranges, something that is clearly going over well with shoppers.”
Discount sales are forecast to reach £26.7 billion this year , with food discounters accounting for the bulk of sales (£17.2 billion) and non-food making up the remaining £9.5 billion.
And Mintel forecasts that total sales are set to experience further growth of 57 per cent through 2022 to reach £41,827 million, accounting for 11.4 per cent of all retail sales.
Mr Carroll said: “Over the past 10 years the discount sector, both food and non-food, has shown that it is highly adaptable, succeeding to thrive in both market conditions which favoured a low-cost alternative and in conditions where traditionally there would have been less demand.
“With an uncertain economic outlook in the short term, the sector is well placed to make further gains and capitalise on likely consumer desire to cut back on expenditure.”
Overall, 71 per cent of all discount shoppers think that the quality of products available in such stores is as good as elsewhere, rising to 75 per cent of those who shop most often at food discounters.
But almost half of discount shoppers (45 per cent) say that the food discounters should offer a wider range of healthy options in-store.
Mr Carroll added: “There is widespread agreement that new product ranges keep the shopping experience interesting and there is also a sense that they create a sense of a treasure hunt within stores, with the majority of shoppers agreeing that this prospect of finding a bargain keeps them coming back.
“While many of the food discounters are actively promoting healthy eating, our research indicates this could go further.
“Given how important higher socio-economic consumers are to food discounters, and their attitudes towards healthy eating, it is clear this should be an area of focus for the discounters.
“With a price premium placed on products under the ‘healthy eating’ heading, a lower-cost but still high-quality alternative from the discounters is likely to prove popular.”