When I first started shopping in Aldi and Lidl, way back in 2008, my friends were snooty. With prices so low, the quality had to be inferior. Now, I think they realise that is not the case at all and they all shop in both stores! Who wouldn’t? But which is best? Here are my views and the thoughts of some other bloggers on the Aldi vs Lidl debate.
Both are cheaper
When I first discovered the discount supermarkets, we didn’t have either Aldi or Lidl in my town. However, I was so impressed with them I actually used to drive 13 miles once a month to the nearest Lidl in Clacton. Even with the cost of the petrol, it was still so much cheaper to stock up.
I would build in extra time to do an Aldi shop each time we went to visit relatives up the road in Ipswich too.
Now we have three Aldi stores here and two Lidls. The world has caught up with my frugal shopping habits!
At the time, I had three daughters still at home and found that by shopping in Aldi or Lidl I shaved at least £30 off our weekly shop, which at that point cost around £90 to £100 a week. A £30 a week saving is not to be sniffed at and it was often more. Who doesn’t want to save money on their food shopping?
Ten years on, I still find both Aldi and Lidl much cheaper to do a whole shop in than Asda, Sainsbury’s or Tesco. However, I think they have tried to compete and even the high end supermarkets like Waitrose have value ranges now.
Both companies are still growing, with the Retail Gazette reporting that they are in the top three supermarkets for growth. But in the Aldi vs Lidl debate, which one is winning?
Why are they different to the big three?
Both Aldi and Lidl have far fewer product lines than the major supermarkets. This means that they can focus on fewer suppliers, which keeps costs down. For me, it also keeps stress levels down! I would rather whizz round a smaller supermarket and stay focussed on what I actually need to buy, than get lost amongst clothing, homeware and shelves full of food that I neither need nor want.
As well as saving me money because things are cheaper, there is less temptation, which saves even money. An added bonus is that, because there us less to choose from, shopping in Aldi or Lidl saves me time.
They have a lot of their own products and lines which, in my opinion, are often nicer and better quality (not to mention cheaper) than the value and own brand ranges in the big three supermarkets.
For those of you who save time by doing an online shop, it might be annoying that neither Aldi or Lidl offer this as an option. However, by going in you get to choose exactly what you want and, as I say, you get round in half the time you would in a massive Sainsbury’s or Tesco.
Great ethos in Aldi
Aldi used to have a system that most customers seemed to understand when I first started shopping with them. They keep their staff costs (and therefore the costs of the goods) as low as possible by whizzing your through the tills!
You throw your goods into your trolley after they have been scanned then go and organise them and pack them properly on the shelves at the back of the store.
This can be stressful for new customers (although I didn’t mind it once I had got the hang). However, I no longer see Aldi staff insisting that customers do it, but they still seem to get customers through the tills pretty quickly.
Face to face contact
They don’t appear to have given into the faceless self-service tills, as Lidl have. This is generally a virtue in my opinion as I value a bit of human interaction, but can be annoying if you only have a couple of things and have to queue behind someone shopping for a family for the week.
Personally, I have developed a system when I am shopping anywhere of emptying my trolley onto the belt and then placing three large bags open in my empty trolley. I can then just throw things in! I always put the heaviest items at the front of the belt so that they end up at the bottom of my bags and not squashing more delicate items such as bread or salad.
Aldi always seem to have enough staff and an efficient system of jumping on and off the till quickly as required. The staff get a lot done but seem to get paid more than other supermarkets for their efforts. In my local one, the staff are really friendly and helpful too.
Frustrations at Lidl
Lidl never seemed to encourage this speedy packing culture, which is frustrating if they only have a couple of people on the tills and you are waiting whilst someone carefully and slowly packs their groceries away.
However, they do have self service tills available if you only have a basket. I have to say, from my experience in our local branches, that there are always long queues at both the normal tills and the self service ones. They generally don’t have enough staff on and those on the floor don’t react quickly and queue bust as they do at Aldi.
Usually at least one of the self service tills is out of order or ridiculously slow as well. Unlike the big supermarkets, staff don’t offer to help you pack in either Lidl or Aldi in my experience, which is odd if they aren’t insisting any more that you take your trolley and pack properly once you have paid.
The other thing that I dislike about my local Lidl is that there isn’t a good customer service culture. I have been at the till many times where the assistant has either barely spoken to me at all, or has chatted to a colleague the whole way through our transaction. I think this is plain rude.
It might, of course, just be my local branch, so I would be interested to hear in the comments if your experience has been different. I have Tweeted Lidl a couple of times about these issues, with no response.
Aldi vs Lidl for taste and quality
There are endless You Tubers comparing the taste of Aldi vs Lidl products. I rather enjoyed this one by Sopherina, where Aldi came out top. Of course, taste tests are incredibly subjective, so what about quality?
Blogger Simon Donald from Pennies for the Piggy Bank says, “I’m an Aldi fan, as find the quality of the food better along with more choice. I also found things like Aldi nappies and baby formula to be better than a lot of the brands too.”
Laura from Savings for Savvy Mums agrees: “I think ALDI is amazing! I think the quality of the produce is better than Lidl and their logical layout in stores suits me. ”
Or Goren from Savvy Londoner goes to both, as he thinks their pricing is comparable. However, he prefers Aldi because: “There’s one thing that’s better for me in Aldi – they have a bigger selection of gluten-free products, which are horribly expensive everywhere else. Lidl did add a gluten-free section as well, but for now, it’s small and doesn’t offer much (and the prices aren’t that enticing).”
Katy Stevens from Allergy Free Day prefers Aldi for similar reasons: “I think Aldi great as their allergy friendly products are ever increasing. As the Mum of a child with multiple allergies I’m gradually being able to do more and more of a full shop there.“
Claire from Daily Deals Blog is another Aldi fan: “My family and I are team Aldi. They have a much nicer range of products. I can do an entire week’s shop at Aldi without having to top up in Tesco or Asda, which then ends up costing me more. When I shop in Lidl I always end up having to go elsewhere as well which defeats the object.
Laura from the Thrifty Londoner was not impressed when she went to Lidl: “Might have just been a one off, but when I shopped at Lidl for fresh fruit and veg, everything was rotten inside when I cut it open at home!
I’ve had some great experiences with the Aldi fruit and veg though, and other fantastic finds there include dairy free pesto and great value hen party decorations.”
Jennifer from Monethalia prefers Aldi because it DOESN’T have a bakery section: “Totally Aldi! Since I started going there, I’ve been saving about £5 on my weekly shopping compared to Lidl. I think it’s partly due to the absence of a bakery section like Lidl’s. ”
Penny from Penny Blogs is on the fence but veering towards Aldi: “I love both Aldi and Lidl but if I had to choose one it would probably be Aldi because it’s two minutes closer to where I live! Seriously though their baby range is amazing. I have a ten month old and since birth she has been in their nappies and their wipes are the best on the market by a long way. We also weaned her using their pouches of baby food and the baby snacks are cheaper than all the other supermarkets but excellent quality. ”
Scott Dixon from the Grumpy Git agrees with me that Aldi tends to have better customer service: “I prefer Aldi over Lidl, although I use both out of convenience.
“Aldi’s products, quality and service is generally better than Lidl and they don’t use self-service checkouts which is the clincher for me. The stores are better laid out and fully stocked, which is something that Lidl also lacks.”
Hayley from Miss Many Pennies also prefers Aldi. “I find I can find more of what I need for a full shop in Aldi, and my experience has been that the quality of fresh foods has been better. I also like that you don’t have to wait to long at the checkouts as they are quick to open new tills if the lines get long
Fiona from Savvy in Somerset says her local Lidl has the edge. “Personally I much prefer Lidl to Aldi. They have a much bigger range of products and I can almost do a full week’s shop there. When I’ve tried to do a week’s shop at Aldi there are just so many products they don’t have!
“At Aldi there always seems to be lots obstructions in the aisles too which makes shopping really difficult and queues are always long – particularly frustrating when you only have a few items. In contrast, my local Lidl has self service tills, which are perfect when you only have a basket.
“Price wise I don’t think there’s a huge amount of difference but the overall shopping experience, while not perfect, is much better at Lidl.
Sian from Little Miss Frugal also prefers Lidl: “I have to go with Lidl! But that may be because we don’t have any Aldi stores near where I live in London for me to visit. Lidl, however, l love. They have a bakery section, great fruit and veg and l love the variety of products that you get within their Deluxe range. Also not forgetting middle of Lidl where you can pick up the most random household goods.”
Thrifty Chap Joseph Seager says: “We usually do our weekly shop at Aldi because it’s closer, but Lidl’s bakery section might just sway it for me.”
Mum on a Budget Nicola is also on Team Lidl in the Aldi vs Lidl debate: “Personally I find Lidl to have better layouts than Aldi stores, which make things easier to find. The middle aisles are less chaotic, so it’s a more pleasant shopping experience. I also like how a lot of their bakery items are made fresh in store. ”
On the fence
One of the few bloggers who liked Lidl and Aldi equally was Katie from Katie Saves: “I love both! I live near Lidl so often get a magazine through the door with a £5 off a £25 spend, which is amazing because you can get so much for your money, plus the bakery is the best!
“Aldi is better for fresh fruit and veg and their entire Mamia baby range is fantastic. Their nappies are better than the leading brands and a fraction of the price.”
Melissa from Skinny Spending is also on the fence: “ I’m a regular at Aldi and there are certain products that I buy there rather than anywhere else, such as their version of Cadbury’s chocolate trifles! But the fresh bakery section in Lidl is very good and so cheap compared to other supermarkets.”
My view on the Aldi vs Lidl debate
As I said above, a lot of this is subjective and not measurable, especially taste testing. Having said that, Good Housekeeping taste tests are worth a read.
I appreciate Lidl in some respects; it does have a fantastic range of loose nuts and snacks, as well as packaged ones, which are great. They also have an in store bakery, which always looks and smells so tempting and delicious. Like Aldi, the products are excellent value.
Their wine, gin and booze generally is brilliant and, like Aldi, they now sell lactose free milk.
However, I have also found the quality of the fruit and veg unreliable. You have to really check that things are over ripe or on the turn. They also often have gaps in their stocks of the basics.
They have some great bargains in the middle aisles. I bought Mr S a cordless drill last Christmas and he was very pleased with it.
The stores I have visited have seemed understaffed and they don’t have any queue busting strategy as far as I can see. At least in my local one, the staff need better customer service training.
In Aldi, whichever store I go into, they have a clear and obvious system and react quickly when a queue develops. The staff are always friendly and helpful. They don’t have a bakery, which is good as I can do without the temptation! They also do brilliant value booze and their own brand chocolate is excellent.
I used their moisturiser for years, before I decided to swap to a more natural organic one. It was only £1.99 a pot and worked a treat. My daughter really rates their copycat versions of branded products, such as the dupe Jo Malone candles, which also go quickly. They cost around £4 as opposed to £40 plus for the real thing!
Which is best overall?
Both Aldi and Lidl are brilliant in terms of overall quality and price. Not just for basic groceries either. Luxury items such as smoked salmon, champagne and prosecco, extra virgin olive oil, etc can be purchased much more cheaply than from the bigger supermarkets.
I have always found them comparable in terms of price. However, I choose to do our regular shop at Aldi, even though it is slightly further to travel than Lidl. I will go into Lidl if I am in a hurry as it is literally round the corner and would always choose it over, say, Asda, which I dislike intensely!
So in the Aldi vs Lidl battle, Aldi comes out on top, both for me and most of my fellow money bloggers.
I hope that both will try to improve the amount of packaging on their fresh produce, and give consumers more options to buy loose. They were the first to encourage customers to bring their own bags. I would like to see them dispense with single use carrier bags altogether.
It’s great that both are now catering for those of us with food allergies and intolerances (I have a post on this here), and I hope they expand the range on these. I would love to see some lactose free yogurt appearing next!
Where are you on the Aldi vs Lidl debate?