Britain is a nation of ­bargain hunters.

In case it wasn't already obvious to retailers who've been forced to offer their own grannies in promotions just to get the punters through the doors, it's been made official by the news that British shoppers save a collective £51bn a year by using vouchers. That's almost £1,000 each a year, maths fans or £1,196 per adult (it says here).

While this was trumpeted in the papers as a triumph of austerity-era frugality, isn't this vital money that should be oiling the wheels of our battered economy? You could almost bail out a bank for that, which surely everyone would agree is a great way to spend the money.

Intriguingly, £51bn is the exact sum in tax cuts that shadow chancellor Ed Balls called for earlier this summer as part of his plan to kick-start the economy (a plan that remained cunningly hidden when his lot were in power).

Still, it's no wonder shoppers are so savvy these days. The Express last week printed some hints for saving cash that included "Pick the right shops" don't get your basics at Harrods, then and, charmingly, "Go in with a smile".

That's certainly better than this summer's in-look of crowbar and balaclava.