/ Shopping

For and against switching supermarkets to Aldi

Aldi balloon

Have you had that conversation about Aldi/Lidl yet (delete as applicable)? The one where the converted shopper explains how much they saved on their weekly shop by ‘giving it a try’…

Whether you play the part of the converted or the uninitiated, the chances are that this scene rings a bell. I’ve certainly heard plenty of anecdotes along these lines lately… The evidence that there’s a shift in the UK’s supermarket landscape is much more than anecdotal, though.

The latest 12-week sales figures from research firm Kantar Worldpanel show that discount chains Aldi and Lidl are on the up, along with Waitrose at the higher end of the market.

While Asda, Morrisons and Tesco all struggled, and Sainsbury’s grew sales by 2.7% year on year, Aldi’s receipts jumped 32%, and Lidl’s 17.2%.

They may be starting from a low base, but such rapid growth should worry the ‘big four’, especially those that have traditionally pushed their low-price credentials.

And then there are the results of our 2014 supermarket survey – Aldi is streets ahead of the big four, coming top for the first time. Here’s our Jen Davis and Kate Creagh going head-to-head on switching to Aldi.

Jen has moved back to Tesco

avatarMy first trip to Aldi felt like a revelation – I could buy an Iceberg lettuce for 30p less than at my usual Tesco store, basics like bread and pasta were incredibly cheap and the range seemed pretty good. But I soon realised that there were a few bits and pieces on my list that I just couldn’t get at Aldi, so we still had to pop to Tesco to top up our shop.

On top of that, the range of vegetables at Aldi was really lacking, and I couldn’t seem to buy most vegetables loose. I’d come away with three courgettes instead of one – still a good price, but it just felt wasteful. As I found myself moving back to Tesco for more and more products, I eventually gave up on Aldi and saved the extra hour of time every weekend.

Kate has fallen for Aldi

Kate CreaghI switched to Aldi for two reasons; price and quality.

Having encountered it when I lived in Germany, I continued to shop at Aldi when I moved back to the UK. I love it because it’s the place where I can stock up on the essentials, like eggs and pasta, and the luxuries, like Prosecco. My food bill is always a lot less than I’d pay in other supermarket chains, so I can spend a bit more on having fun. The selection of products may be limited at times, but I don’t mind being flexible as the quality and prices are excellent.

After my big monthly shop to restock the kitchen cupboards at Aldi, I supplement this with a weekly shop at the local market for fresh produce. This is the best of both worlds as I support local farmers and make my food budget go further.

So, are you an Aldi convert? How about Lidl? Do you rate these new supermarkets above the big four?

Do you regularly shop in Aldi or Lidl?

Yes (58%, 656 Votes)

No (42%, 469 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,125

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Can’t see me switching from Tesco unfortunately. The nearest Tesco being half a mile away the closest Aldi being 10 miles. Here’s hoping they open a store closer.

Graham says:
20 February 2014

Aldi draws me to shop there on an almost weekly basis with its limited special offers on diverse items such as DIY tools and pots and pans etc.. They are clever to target seasonal needs of shoppers. When I am there I often also buy food items that appear cheaper than regular supermarkets. However, often the brands are Aldi’s own or foreign brands little known in the UK. That said I have bought things much cheaper than available elsewhere (even the internet) and I have bought things I don’t need on impulse because I thought they were a bargain at the time. I still shop at Tesco and Sainsburys regularly too.

We do our regular bulk shopping on-line with Sainsbury but we do occasional top-up shops at Aldi – especially for the “best buy” products and some of the more unusual lines. The inventory is more limited and the shopping experience is certainly different but it makes an interesting change from the other supermarkets. With Tesco claiming 30% of the UK grocery trade we shall be pleased if there was some serious comptetion. It’s notable that Tesco do not even attempt to compete against Aldi and regard them with a degree of disdain. Sainsbury’s go so far as to say that having an Aldi or Lidl next door improves their footfall. It’s time the majors were knocked of their perch.

I tend to shop online quite a lot using Waitrose as they are the only supermarket to offer free delivery. OK you may pay a few extra pennies more on certain items but you are saving on petrol if you live a distance away from any of the big supermarkets.
Much depends I think on your personal circumstances I.e age, health, number in family, proximity to stores, transport and time availability, etc as to where you shop and at the end of the day we are fortunate to have choice, but the cheapest is not always the best value and judging by some of the comments posted you can easily be lured into a false sense of security by buying and spending more than you need (or want) at the cut price supermarkets which all adds to their profit margins and (also one’s waistline!).

We (personally) want to be able to trust the food we buy – quality and provenance – and have had very good experience with our current source. So whilst Aldi might be cheaper, I don’t know their quality and don’t feel the urge to take that risk. I do think there is some link between source of food, its cost and its reliability, but I accept I could be misjudging the chaeper supermarkets.

I agree that care is needed. We tend to stick to things like washing & cleaning products and non-food lines from Aldi.

There’s a small town in south Norfolk where it’s rumoured that the Cooperative Food store – a medium sized supermarket that has never quite got its act together – is selling out to Aldi. This has been greeted with all-round applause. The local economy is based on lower than average incomes and it will be interesting to see what impact this [if it comes about] will have on Tesco and Morrison who have superstores close by. I think Tesco will suffer but Morrison has a different offering and might not be so badly affected. The odd thing is that most Coop customers used Morrison’s car park; I expect Aldi’s customers to do the same which would rub salt into the wound somewhat.

There have been rumours that our brand new, all-singing, all-dancing Co-op supermarket is being sold to Aldi. We are not surprised, as the store never seems to be fully stocked, most of the staff are slow and lacking in charisma, and the lack of customers is very obvious.

I use Tesco because it is close (0.7 miles), has a large car park and cash dispensers, and stocks a good range of products. It is also a British company. If I am passing other supermarkets I will call in.

Over the years I have learned a lot about the games that Tesco plays with prices. I try to ignore what may be phoney offers and compare unit prices, even if I have to do mental arithmetic to calculate these for multi-buy offers.

I’m not taken in by Tesco’s ‘Price Promise’. It does not make comparisons with the cheaper supermarkets and many items are not compared.

I’ve tried Aldi’s new store in Canterbury, but was not impressed. Narrow aisles and a real battle to get round. When I reached the checkout – no credit cards accepted. Didn’t have enough cash so had to use a debit card. Bought Loo Rolls and Kitchen towels which fell apart on use!! All in all not very impressed. Will carry on alternating between Tesco, Waitrose and my local high street.

Whereas Lidl manages to open 3 outlets within ONE outer
London borough all within a very reasonable distance of one another,
there is none at all as to Aldi…. had to take two tube rides to get to it and
before that a further brisk bicycle ride… though competitive with the
‘big four’, not too impressed with its range of prices, many items can be
obtained, for example, more cheaply in London at Oriental equivalents.

And another, unfamiliar brands I do not always espouse.

UNeconomical use of time for what savings that may be had
in my case.

Sophie Gilbert says:
22 February 2014

The best way to get conned is to stick to one supermarket. Sometimes I go to Lidl’s, sometimes to Tesco’s, sometimes to independent shops (there is no Aldi near me). If I feel like a wee treat I go to M&S. All of these are within reasonable walking distance.

Like Wavechange I know the tricks and don’t fall for them, like a Tesco coupon worth 25 extra points on my Clubcard for an article I appear to them to have stopped buying and they want to entice me to buy it again. If I don’t need it or don’t fancy it within the coupon’s expiry date, I don’t buy it.

Last year I emailed the CEO of Tesco after one of their profit warnings suggesting that they should be more customer focused.

Apart from numerous other suggestions the one I made about the vouchers they offer was why don’t they just reduce the price of your next shop instead of wasting time and money printing vouchers in the hope that people would remember they got them whether they bothered to use them or not. And the price match again why print out a voucher why not just reduce the bill there and then

As you can imagine, they didn’t like those ideas. They just spent paragraphs explaining how they were about to spend £1b revamping stores, and they didn’t like my reply that to many people all we’d see was another reason for all their price hikes.

Supermarkets and especially Tesco seem to think that the use smoke and mirrors is a valid business model 🙁

Richard Brophy says:
19 December 2014

Hence their profits.

renniemac says:
23 February 2014

I use Lidl for disinfectants and cleaning products, but I don’t buy food stuff, unsure of quality. I shop at Tesco and M&S but use local small fruiters and butchers. I have been getting a great bargain recently from B&M stores Twinnings morning tea £7.99 at Tesco, only £2.99 at B&M now that’s what I call savings also my basmati rice 49p at B&M, £2.49 at Tesco, I don’t mind travelling between stores. originally shopped at B&M for pet products as I heard they were cheaper but found other brands I buy often also cheaper. I think these stores are on the rise because shoppers are becoming more savvy and not accepting the pricing from the big four. but not everyone can shop around due to transport restrictions, I do tend to ask my elderly neighbour if there is anything she needs especially from the aforementioned stores.

We do our ‘big’ shop at Sainsbury’s, but as we have 2 large and well-stocked Aldi stores nearby, I also buy from there, & will continue to do so. I disagree with the comments about lack of confidence in food quality. I highly recommend the smoked salmon, the frozen Salmon Wellington, biscuits, & many other food products. I don’t buy their fruit and veg if it is pre-packed in plastic, but I have been very happy with the quality of loose produce. I know I’m sounding like an ambassador for Aldi, but I could write a list of things I’ve bought, at bargain prices, from their stores! Also service at the checkouts is efficient and fast.

Try local independent shops and experience proper customer service and support your local community!

jane I says:
11 April 2014

I shopped for the first time in Aldi’s in Farnborough last week and really enjoyed the verify of foods on offer.
The checkout however was a nightmare. The deputy store manager was so rude that i left the store shacking. Don’t pack your bags, put your food back in the trolly, pack it over there, my food was torpedoed from one place to another with a matter of urgency. That was followed by, put your card in, pay quickly and go, while rolling her eyes at other customers.
I spoke to another customer, who said you get used to it! I then spoke to a member of staff and she explained that the prices are good but they sacrifice other things?????? I guess that would be customer service.

DerekP says:
27 June 2014

I’ve been using my local Farmfoods as an alternative to Aldi for a while now. Like Iceland, Farmfoods most sell frozen foods but do have a basic but adequate range of other stuff.

Their shops are small and easy to get around and, at least in the one I go to, customer service is great – all the staff are fiendly and helpful.

It’s a bit like Aldi or Lidl but without the hellish rush at the tills.

Richard Brophy says:
19 December 2014

I work for Sainsburys but thought I’d downgrade myself & try ALDI . Although the customer service & freindliness of staff lacks there I can save 50% on my weekly shop. You have to watch the dates on the food but the cost & quality of the food more than makes up for the lack of service there.