As businesses countrywide feel the pain of the financial downturn, there's one group of retailers who are prospering. Yes, the great British pound shop is seeing a surge in sales as a cash-strapped public hits the streets eager for sub-quid bargains.
So to help you save a few pennies, here are the 17 things you should never pay more than a pound for...
Mops, dustpans and brushes, polish, bumper packs of dishcloths, tea towels, rubber gloves, vacuum bags and two big bottles of washing up liquid — all can be bought for one solitary pound each in the pound shops!
To reduce your household expenditure even further read 7 ways to beat higher household bills.
The basics like hand soap, toothpaste, shampoo, shower gel and large packs of toilet paper can all be purchased for one pound in pound shops. It's a good idea to go for the branded products though — my local pound shop stocks Imperial Leather, Colgate, Dove, Palmolive and Nivea.
You can also pick up some good-quality makeup in many pound shops — but they do have a constantly revolving stock, so keep your eyes peeled for any bargains.
Plug-in and spray-on air fresheners can also be bought for one pound — much cheaper than in the supermarket! But make sure you keep a note of the brand of plug-in freshener so you can buy the correct refills — also available in the pound shop, of course!
I found 400 sheet pads of paper, bumper packs of envelopes and jiffy bags, five rolls of sticky tape and 70 punch pockets — all for £1 each! Large packs of pens and pencils can also be bought for a pound — but from previous experience, the quality of £1 pen packs is often fairly average.
You can buy 12 low-cost AA batteries for £1, but their lifespan is often a fraction on the short side. My advice is to buy a smaller branded pack in order to get more bang for your buck.
If the tinsel you've been using for the last decade is starting to look a bit decrepit and the fairy for the tree has seen better days, then it's probably worth picking up a few new festive decorations. There's tinsel, baubles and tree decorations at most pound shops. You can also pick up some cheap wrapping paper, cards, tags and bows while you're there.
For some more ways to have a frugal festive season read Cut the cost of your Xmas.
Pound shops are great places to pick up cheap costumes for events like Halloween. After all, if it's for the kids - they'll probably wreck it while out trick-or-treating, and if it's for you - you'll probably lose it whilst at a fancy dress party!
As well as cleaning goods, you can pick up foil, clingfilm, rubber gloves and bin bags at pound shops.
Tupperware and jars
Great for the kids' lunches, freezing leftover food, keeping rice, pasta or cereal in or for bottling up homemade jams and chutneys.
Planning a New Year's party, but don't fancy letting your guests loose with the posh crockery and expensive wine glasses? You can get paper plates, plastic beakers, disposable cutlery and every other type of disposable party accessory known to man at the pound shop.
Sweets and choccies
There are loads of branded sweets and chocolate at most pound shops — my local one has big packs of Kit Kats, Maltesers, Haribo, Cadbury Fingers and Hobnobs. But my personal favourite £1 choccy has to be the Walnut Whips!
It's also worth noting that when buying food from a pound shop it's always a good idea to check the best before date.
I can honestly say I have never seen a bigger bag of crisps than the huge multipack of Quavers in the pound shop on my high road! There are also Hula Hoops and Mini Cheddars — all for £1 a pack! But again, check the best before date.
Lucozade and more
Throughout my time as a student, the local pound shop would get a visit on the morning after every night out in order to stock up on Lucozade to cure the inevitable hangover. Most stores also stock big bottles of Coke and Fanta as well as large packs of tea bags and big jars of coffee.
What's the point spending huge amounts on toys for the dog, when all it's going to do is try and tear them to shreds? You can pick up cheap pet toys and treats at most pound shops.
With the cold weather looking likely to stay for a while, you'll need to stock up on antifreeze, screen scrapers and de-icer — you can buy them all for £1!
Blank CDs and DVDs
Spindles of blank CDs and DVDs are available at most pound stores along with the accompanying blank cases and sleeves.
Books and DVDs
OK, so maybe you will often need to spend more than £1 on books, DVDs and CDs. But still, pound shops do buy up stock for cheap that other retailers can't shift, meaning you could pick up a bargain if you're in the right place at the right time. It's a good idea to flip through any books though, as they may occasionally be faulty stock.
Pound shops make money by selling some goods at a highly marked-up price — thereby compensating for the stock they sell on the cheap. If you're after items from brands such as Cadbury, Colgate, Dove and even WeightWatchers, then the pound shop is definitely cheaper than the supermarket. But for goods that can be bought on the supermarket's own brand — things like juice, tinned foods, scrubbing brushes and bleach — you may be better off popping down your local supermarket.
Pound shops are basically relying on you to purchase multiple items, even if you originally only planned on buying one thing. This huge volume of sales allows them to profit from goods that are effectively overpriced — but because they're in the same place as a whole lot of bargains, you don't notice!