What To Know Before Your First Trip To ALDI

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The Cult of ALDI is real and it is powerful. Fans of the chain love its distinctive approach to the customer experience just as much as they love its low prices, and are quick to evangelise it to everyone they meet.

According to CNN, the German grocery chain is set to open 130 new stores in the US next year. It has also transformed shopping in Australia, reportedly contributing $3.2 billion to our GDP.

It turns out that ALDI’s cost-saving idiosyncrasies — small stores, limited staff, plastic bag fees, and trolleys you have to rent with a dollar — are really paying off. So if you’ve never set foot in an ALDI and don’t exactly understand its whole deal, that could be changing soon. Here’s everything you need to know before your first trip.

It’s a seriously no-frills experience

In exchange for low prices, ALDI shoppers have to put in a little more effort than they might at other stores. You have to deposit a dollar to unlock a grocery cart, which means you have to lock it back up to get your money back. Plastic bags also cost money, so you’ll either have to pay up or plan ahead and bring your own. Finally, you have to bag your own groceries — but there’s a convenient little shelf at the front of the store for exactly this purpose.

This has been described as “brutal efficiency,” but to me, it’s common sense. Fewer bells and whistles mean lower overhead, and in turn, lower prices for consumers — and all you have to do is bring a $1 coin and a couple of bags. To me, that’s a fair trade.

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The stores might be smaller than you’re used to

Compared to a massive Coles or Woolworths, ALDI stores have smaller footprints and a much smaller variety of products to choose from. There’s also not a lot of product redundancy — ALDI sells a pretty wide variety of potato chips, but there aren’t eight different brands of each flavour — and pretty much everything but the staples is constantly rotating.

This is very much a love-it-or-hate-it thing. Personally, I love it. The small selection makes it easy to learn the layout of your store, which means that you can get in and out in 15 minutes if you’re lucky. I also love that there’s always something new to try: since I mostly shop at ALDI for pantry and fridge essentials, all those seasonal snacks and cheeses are just bonuses. The downside, of course, is that you might not find every last item on your list, but I think it’s still worth a shot.

They probably won’t have your brands

You won’t find big brands at ALDI — in fact, with the exception of some Coca-Cola products, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a name brand product at my store. Instead, nearly everything is sold under private labels. If you’re loyal to particular brands, the ALDI equivalent might still be worth a shot: I’ve found that what ALDI lacks in brand recognition, it more than makes up for in quality and price.

Always read the weekly specials

Skimming the weekly ads is a must before every ALDI trip. There’s one weekly ad for chain-wide food sales, plus an in-store ad with deals at your local store, including Special Buys — weekly sales on seasonal home goods, cookware, toys and even furniture and electronics.

The Special Buys often contains some great products. I own a ton of their cookware: silicone spatulas, cups, mixing bowls, a waffle iron, and an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, all of which I use constantly. There’s so much more than kitchen equipment, too. To give you an idea, this week’s Special Buys includes Educational Books and Toys, winter clothing and DIY power tools. New stock usually shows up on Wednesdays and Saturdays, so those are the best days to try to grab an item you’re eyeing.

Whether or not ALDI’s unique style appeals to you, if you’re looking to save some money on groceries, it’s undeniably a great place to shop. Just don’t forget your quarter and your reusable bags.


Comments

    Just don't get the hype from Aldi. Everyone raves about the prices but the majority of the products they sell are inferior. Many friends who rave about oh I got this coffee machine or tv at Aldi for half the price other places are selling it for. Then couple days later I ask what happened to that product sitting at their house and they respond, oh had to take it back, became faulty. You get what you pay for and that's what Aldi is.

      I think Aldi have since lifted their game in that department. When it comes to electronic failures, the name Bauhn never seemed to be too far away.

      My first problem with that brand was a so called multi-core tablet they sold. It was a nice tablet and cheap but when things started to get heavy it choked quickly. It soon came out the device was only a single core device.

      The only other problem I've had was with a Bauhn mobile phone. It was a good price and everything about it was OK, even the processing.

      Then I tried to make calls and took it back the next day as even at full volume I couldn't hear anything via the speaker.

      These were my two only cases but never the less I stopped getting that brand.

      In fact, I don't think I've seen the Bauhn brand there much anymore. The complaints must have mounted up as I'm seeing Medion in its place now.

    15 minutes to shop plus 15 minutes to get through the long checkout queues.

    There are also credit card fees. "We also accept all major credit cards, except American Express and Diners Club. Please note, however, that there is a 0.5% surcharge on all credit card purchases to cover the cost of the service."

    The queues are the main reason I don't like shopping there.

    Just what we need, a German-owned grocery store employing half the staff of Aussie stores. What's wrong with Aussies? Can't we even run a corner shop anymore?

    Finally, you have to bag your own groceries — but there’s a convenient little shelf at the front of the store for exactly this purpose.

    It maybe a strange thing in Aus, but when I was living in Germany all the supermarkets did that...

    I like Aldi because they ship in european treats (particularly during Christmas)^_^

      I think it's a (nice) peculiarity of Australia that we get our bags packed for us.

    Aldi - The shop we love to hate.

    I have been shopping at Aldi since Aldi coming to Oz. This is what I have learnt:
    1. Aldi is foreign owned which translates to no profits stay in Oz and Aldi will do their best to not pay it's far share of taxes just like McDonald's.
    2. Aldi helps Aussies understand that Coles & Woolies 1/2 price deals are a swindle. Coles & Woolies cycle the same products at 1/2 price all the time. The standard price of those repeat items can be sighted at Aldi, ie Morning Fresh Adli $1.90 Coles & Woolies 1/2 price also $1.90. Same for soap power, rice thins and every other 1/2 price item. Nice trick Coles & Woolies.
    3. It took Aldi to show us what premium food tastes like. Just try Aldi tuna, cheese, or frozen veges. Coles & Woolies is still taking us for a ride.
    4. Aldi checkout ques are a fright until you enter them and find out the check out person is so fast your finished in a flash. Coles & Woolies will send the gullibles to the selfserve and not give customers a 2% discount for do their job for them.

    You know, if you are getting tribal about - and hating on - a supermarket, you seriously have to get a life or a more intellectual pursuit. Anyone with even a fractional intelligence will see that there are savings to be made at Aldi, but you need to use your judgement. There are some no-contests for me at Aldi: Necessities like veggies, indulgences like brioche buns, chilli chips, ice cream. It's not Woolies or Coles - it's the brands they carry who happily pocket the insane profits they make from you. My usual path is Aldi first, Woolies next. Fine. It's only darned groceries, for Pete's sake. Don't bust your britches.And you need to eat and obsess less anyway, right?

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