25th March 2014

Why cheap supermarkets make me cheerful

By Eleanor Leal Luna on Tuesday March 25, 2014

A recent announcement by Morrisons of a fall in profits and plans to slash prices have sparked talk of a supermarket price war and brought the continued success of its budget rivals to the fore.

Now if you’re anything like me, a discount grocery store in your backyard is something to shout about.

My reaction a few months ago to the news that another budget supermarket was to be built around the corner from my house says a lot about the buzz these outlets are capable of creating.

Triumphant texts were sent to various relatives followed by announcements on my social media accounts:  my neighbourhood, already blessed with a Lidl and a large Tesco, was to play host to the God of discount supermarkets – Aldi.

I’m not alone in my (over) enthusiasm. Last month an Aldi was unveiled in Prestwich to a crowd of hundreds of eager shoppers waiting in anticipation, a scene that is repeated each time the chain opens a new set of doors.

It is a similar story for Lidl, whose managing director revealed in December plans to open at least 30 new stores a year across the UK in a bid to double its numbers.

With impressive profits and ambitious expansions underway, it seems there’s no stopping budget grocery brands.

Whether you are a fan or not, their impact on the food retail landscape cannot be underestimated.

Not so long ago, buying value items and shopping at cut-price supermarkets was a much more discreet activity and their branded plastic bags were something to be hidden from view. It was also often synonymous with an inevitable compromise on quality – something few consumers were willing to abandon.

Since the recession, attitudes have changed. It’s not just students and those on low budgets hunting around the aisles for a good bargain – middle class people are in on the act too and word of mouth, as well as effective PR and marketing campaigns, has got increasing numbers of shoppers down to their local Aldi and Lidl. Both have demonstrated that cheaper food and drink products can still be just as good as certain top brands and in some cases, award-winning. Nowadays, rather than hiding those branded carrier bags, people carry them around with pride!

With the big four under increasing threat from their discount rivals, it is likely that consumers can expect more price cuts ahead – good news for our purses, but perhaps a worrying sign ahead for food industry suppliers.

Whatever happens, I’ll be first in the queue when my new Aldi opens next week!