Discounters such as Aldi and Lidl account for a 5.9 per cent share of UK grocery spend – their highest share to date – and are also the fastest-growing sector of the market.
While price is obviously the driver of these discounters, it can’t be the only thing keeping customers going back. The credit crunch has led to many shoppers trying discount stores and, if their local Aldi or Lidl is one of the group’s newest or top-performing stores, then the experience will probably be a pleasant surprise.
Discounters are definitely worth a try. Walking around an Aldi press show yesterday, it was amazing to see the breadth of its offer. In terms of non-food, the German discounter stocks everything from wetsuits to power tools, toys to baby clothes. Its Siana moisturising anti-wrinkle cream, for example, at£1.89, is not only an absolute bargain, but has won several plaudits and become a sell-out after being mentioned on TV programme How To Look Good Naked.
The quality of the merchandise is good too. Aldi may only have one choice of nappies or detergent, but it will have worked hard on the quality of that product, because there is no other option. And, if you combine that quality with prices such as£2.99 for a pair of toddlers jeans, shoppers will keep coming back.
Aldi’s range of food is also plentiful. This year, shoppers will, of course, be able to buy the traditional stuffed turkey breast joint for£12.99, but they can also buy treats such as a three-bird roast for£9.99 and a whole Canadian lobster for£5.99.
The time is clearly right for discounters and, if they can deliver quality too, they may convert some shoppers for the long term.
Some of the discounters fall down in the shopping experience though. It doesn’t matter that the stores are basic, some are shabby and open products are strewn on shelves. Yet, with the spotlight firmly on discounters, if they can make the best of their stores, then the price and quality will shine through.