A few years ago, a dear friend told me about how he’d met the girl of his dreams at a nightclub. They boogied, then woogied. After exchanging drinks, numbers, and addresses, the lady whispered in his ear, “I want you to make me feel dirty and degraded.” Naturally, he took her shopping in his local Aldi.
However, lidl by lidl, this tarnished reputation of the German discounters has gradually begun to change. No longer do we vacantly stare at amorous conquests with dismay upon discovery that the “coffee” provided by the host is in fact Lidl’s own brand. No, Sir. Now, the general public are asking how much was it, and where is the nearest store.
Aldi and Lidl, whose cheap alternatives have become increasingly popular with Britain’s shoppers, grew by 22.6pc and 15.1pc respectively to finish the year with market shares of 4.8pc and 3.5pc. While their market share is still outstripped by the UK’s major supermarkets, more than half of all UK households turned to one of the discounters over the festive season for cheaper alternatives. Why? Well, when you’re enticing cash-strapped middle-class shoppers with premium products such as its £11.99 Comte De Senneval champagne, you’re going to gain some fans. On the other isle, Sainsbury’s; you’ve got no fans.
Last week Sainsbury’s reported its worse performance over the Christmas period in a decade. It said the future outlook remained “challenging” amid an uncertain trading environment, food price deflation and price cuts. Sainsbury’s has announced plans to axe 500 jobs as part of a cost-cutting exercise, as the UK supermarket battle continues to heat up. Sainsbury’s, which is the UK’s second largest supermarket, said the job cuts would be across “all divisions and grades in our store support centres”.
Sainsbury’s aren’t the only supermarket struggling with the encroachment of the German price slashers. The beleaguered supermarket Tesco has said it will close 43 unprofitable stores across the UK – more than half of which will be local convenience shops, known as Tesco Express. However the retail giant, which has more than 3,300 stores in the UK, had a better Christmas than expected. Sales over the holiday period were down just 0.3% on the year before, and up 0.1% if fuel sales are included. Overall, comparable sales for the three months to the beginning of January were down by 2.9%.
Ultimately, although Geordies must be perpetually confused that “Aldi” is not open 24 hours a day, they and Lidl are sure here to stay. Uh oh.
By Dre Efthymiou