Lidl is not so ‘little’

Another German discount supermarket which hit the UK shores back in 1994 and now have over 700 stores in the UK, as well as other countries. Rivalling Aldi in many cases, they too go from strength to strength in the cut price bracket.

Is there a preference for either? Not really, it will depend on your own personal choice, and whether stores are in reasonable proximity to your home, and that they stock the kind of products you enjoy.

The store layout is easy and products simple to find. The ‘middle for Lidl’ section houses hardware for both indoors and outdoors, laundry items and a flower market and is exactly where it says it is – in the middle of each store. Everything but food is in the middle, and the products change every three days. Navigation of these stores is why this group works well on the discount front.

Lidl must predict that consumers will do a ‘big shop’ there, as there are no small baskets, only trollies and large ‘basket trollies’ that you pull around with you when shopping. In May 2018, it was voted Britain’s cheapest supermarket by the Grocer magazine and seemingly they have stayed that way. Compared to its competitor, Aldi, there is not much price differential going on, it’s more a case of ‘what tastes better’ for the cost. Also, the range seems to be more limited, with equivalent products not available, as you will see from the price comparison table.

The benefits of shopping at Lidl

Obviously, savings in cost whilst retaining quality is what most shoppers look for, particularly when there is more than the average amount of mouths to feed. In fact, the more people you must feed, the more cost-effective Lidl can become on a per capita basis. Some items are for sale in larger amounts than is the norm and geared to make mealtimes easy and affordable. Lidl are particularly good for lunch box items, often a meal that can end up costly due to wastage when buying certain items. An example of this are their mini cucumbers, perfect for small mouths and equally small lunch boxes! Consumers comment how fresh and crunchy they are and that they don’t go soggy at one end, unlike larger cucumbers. One to remember at Lidl.

Fresh bread and meat are also highly recommended in their premium range for both quality and price, as well as stock levels staying the same on every day of the week that you may visit.

Whilst you cannot buy online yet, you can certainly see prices and special offers for when you intend to shop. What you can do however, is go to the MySupermarket website, get an order together and then print it off – a ready prepared shopping list, so you don’t get carried away in store. Surveys show that the average cost spent per week in Lidl is £75.10 for a family of four and this includes an element of cleaning products and other non-consumables.

Lidl is very child friendly in terms of products sold, which can be a bonus on saving money. New baby and toddler food ranges have been launched in 2019 to rival the readily established brands. Reports state that the food is good quality, tasty and up to 50% cheaper. Likewise, kiddies’ toiletries, bath products, baby wipes etc. are all highly discounted on own brands. Lidl have also recently introduced ‘kiddie trollies’ to encourage children to learn how to shop and shop wisely (children’s sized fruit for example). This is undoubtedly a great as well as healthy innovation.

In terms of payments, Lidl accept major bank cards and some credit cards – cheques are not accepted in the branches that we researched.

Another plus point – Lidl offer other brand names and usually at lower prices!

Any problems with shopping at Lidl?

Nothing major, but a few slight annoyances. Stores tend to be small, so if you are used to a hypermarket style venue, you will be disappointed. With small stores parking spaces tend to be limited, so try to avoid peak times such as weekends, if possible.

Product display could be better as often goods are still packed in an outer container, making shelves look bland and uninteresting. If you can get your head around this, you will realise that this eventually saves you money!

As Lidl are not exactly a High Street location situated by countless cash machines, if you don’t have a credit or bank card, you must pay by cash. Can be awkward if you forget a wallet full of cash before you start your shop. Three branches we researched in Berkshire are somewhat in the middle of a small parade of shops, and in some cases, nothing at all, so cash is key.

No online ordering and no deliveries are always a stumbling block for some. Delivery service has recently been launched in Italy, but so far, no date for the UK.

Price comparison

Fun size apples 0.77p 0.95p N/A £1.25
Farleys Rusks £1.49 – 300g £1.50 -150g N/A £1.50 – 150g
Newborn nappies 0.75p (24) 0.92p (24) 0.82p (24) £2.50 (27)
10 fish fingers £1.35 £1.79 £1.35 £1.75
Porridge oats 0.85p – 1kg £1.20 – 1kg N/A £1.39 – 1kg
Fromage Frais 85g 0.75p for 4 £1.50 for 4 0.95p for 4 £1.50 for 4

Based on ‘child friendly’ products, you will notice that equivalent products were not available in several instance at Aldi, or prices at 30 May 2019 simply not published. As usual, with discount supermarkets, best value to be found is in store on the day.

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