The results of our annual supermarket survey are in and there’s a new top shop in town. But while it scores highly for value for money, it rates lower than others for in-store experience. What’s your preference?
A recent Which? survey of 6,800 people has seen German discounter Aldi knock Waitrose off the top spot as the UK’s favourite supermarket. Waitrose had previously held the crown for three years in a row.
Aldi’s discount rival, Lidl, also ranks highly – it comes in third place, behind runner-up Marks & Spencer.
Waitrose is now in fourth position, while Iceland comes fifth. The ‘Big Four’ supermarkets – Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s – all sit at the bottom of the table.
How the ratings stack up
In the survey, supermarkets were rated by customers for product range, quality of fresh and own-brand products, store appearance, queuing time and value for money.
Their customer scores, which dictate the rankings, are based on whether customers are happy with their chosen supermarket and whether they would recommend it to a friend.
Aldi beats Waitrose for customer satisfaction, despite lower star ratings for all in-store experiences except for value for money. Lidl also has a very good customer score but does less well in the star ratings breakdown than lower-ranking supermarkets.
It’s in the experience of shopping where Aldi and Lidl score poorly, getting the worst ratings of all for store appearance, queuing time and staff availability.
However, it seems customers are less interested in a pleasant shopping experience than they are in getting value for money – Lidl and Aldi both receive five out of five stars for value for money, while Waitrose scores only two stars.
Service vs value for money
Supermarket shoppers have told us before that customer service is the least important factor when deciding where to shop. Since Lidl and Aldi both score well for quality, customers are willing to put up with longer queues, less available staff and a smaller range of products for good quality at better value.
It’s no surprise, then, that Lidl and Aldi continue to grow in popularity. According to Kantar Worldpanel, Aldi and Lidl’s sales increased by 16.2% and 16.3% respectively from the beginning of November 2017 to the end of January 2018. Last year, Lidl overtook Waitrose to become the fifth largest supermarket in the UK.
Both Aldi and Lidl are both famous for a fast-paced checkout system – it’s rumoured that check-out workers at Aldi have speed targets to meet. They pile stock high but while you can usually find everything you need, layouts can be confusing and you’re unlikely to find many familiar brand names.
Aldi and Lidl are doing a lot of things right, too, though. Their limited-edition stock, such as Aldi’s premium candles or Lidl’s £10 Champagne, regularly sells out in a flash. Plus, the quality of products can be excellent – both Aldi and Lidl have been awarded Which? Best Buys for a variety of things, regularly ranking alongside premium brands.
On the flipside, Waitrose customers tell us they’re very impressed by the staff availability and helpfulness. And customers love the quality of its products, where it picked up the highest marks. It also scored five stars for the appearance of its stores, where Aldi and Lidl score poorly.
It seems when it comes to shopping for groceries, we’re a nation divided. So, what’s most important to you? High-quality produce, a pleasant experience, a great range of items, or great value for money? Or is it a combination of the above, or do you just head to the nearest shop?