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BBC Business Correspondent Jonty Bloom embarks on a behind the scenes exploration of a retail explosion that is bucking all trends. As British high streets wither in the drought of recession, forcing hundreds of shops to close, one retail phenomenon is bursting with health and vitality - the pound shop. And, with the discount sector in the UK now worth £7 billion and predicted to rise to £11.2 billion by 2016, pound shops are breeding like rabbits and big brands want a slice of the pie.

Are pound shops the saviours of the British high street or the death knell of quality? Where does all that eclectic stuff come from? And how come it still only costs a pound? Psychologists, academics, punters and pound shop operators help discover the origins of the pound shop and examine what their meteoric rise has to say about all of us.

We follow the trail of the weird stuff they stock on their shelves, from China to the UK and back again, in a pound shop equivalent of the old silk route. A potent mix of bargains, surprises, convenience and easy maths.

Produced by Jim Carey.
A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

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