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The mainstream supermarkets have begun a price war in order to try and regain some market share from the discount supermarkets. We therefore investigate what impact this has had and determine: are discount supermarkets cheaper than the mainstream supermarkets?
For many years, I’ve shopped at the discount supermarkets in the UK, primarily Aldi and Lidl. I’ve always been fascinated by looking at the crazy random products that they have in the middle aisle (although I almost never buy anything) and its always seemed cheaper.
However, as these discount supermarkets have taken a larger share of the market, the mainstream supermarkets have bitten back. Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys and Morrisons have all recently entered a price war and make great promises of reducing prices on hundreds of items and to compete with these discount supermarkets on price.
I’m obviously a fan of saving money where I can. So, this made me ask myself: are the discount supermarkets cheaper than the mainstream supermarkets today?
The Weekly Shop
General public opinion suggests that they are. This is also backed by (and probably driven by) media reports which have consistently highlighted how the mainstream supermarkets are suffering at the hands of the discount supermarkets.
However, we all know that the media have a tendency to overstate, or even sensationalise, these things so I wanted to find out for myself.
Therefore, this week, I did my entire weekly shopping at Aldi:
When I returned home, I then recorded everything I bought in that photo. The total spend was £84.99. This immediately felt cheaper than my usual shop of a similar size. However, I wanted to know whether this was cheaper and, if so, how much cheaper it was compared to the other supermarkets.
Therefore, I took myself online to each of the 4 mainstream supermarkets and performed a comparison of each product to find the equivalent product elsewhere.
I bought 53 items in total, each of which I found the same product (or a suitably similar one) at each of the other supermarkets:
What Do These Results Tell Us?
Firstly, and most importantly, that Aldi is SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than the mainstream supermarkets.
In fact, our total was a whopping 25.7% cheaper than the average of the four supermarkets!
I was expecting them to be cheaper, but this is much more than I was expecting.
Breaking it down by item, we can see that 40 out of 53 products (75%) were cheaper at Aldi, and another 5 out of 53 (9%) were the same price at Aldi as the cheapest alternative.
Quite remarkable that only 8 products could be found cheaper elsewhere!
Of the competitors, Asda fared best, with the cheapest overall bill at £101.17 (still 19% more expensive than Aldi) and were cheapest on 3 products (and matched the price on 5).
What a resounding victory for Aldi in the price war!
The Quality War
It doesn’t end with price. With the discount supermarkets, they are not certainly not compromising on quality when it comes to reducing their prices.
I’m a good way through demolishing this weekly shop, and I have yet to eat something which I think is of poorer quality that the competitors. In many cases, I would say that the quality is far superior, especially on the fruit and vegetables.
The mainstream supermarkets “price-match” each other
You often hear about price matching on the adverts and in the news. However, it seems that the price matching is only between the 4 mainstream supermarkets and that they are unable to match the price of the discount supermarket.
You can see this in a couple of items that I purchased:
- Tomatoes – 69p at all four mainstream supermarkets; 49p at Aldi
- Broccoli – 49p at all four mainstream supermarkets; 45p at Aldi
Do you ever get ripped off at Aldi?
Not in my basket I didn’t! There is a concern with discount retailers, that they sell certain products in line with their pricing structure, but which aren’t actually cheap. For example, when Poundland sells superglue for £1, but you might be able to pick it up elsewhere for as little as 19p.
No such concern with Aldi.
There were only 2 products in my basket (out of the 53) where the Aldi price was above the average price of the other four supermarkets:
- Mixed Chillies – these were 0.75p more than the average
- Golden Vegetable Rice – this was 0.25p more than the average
Out of a full weekly shop, they could barely get 1p over the average on all their items put together.
Man, I love this place!!
Good for shopping for one or two
Another thing I only realised when I performed the comparison was that very often, the only sizes available for products in the other supermarkets were much bigger. Carrots, for example, were only available in a 1kg bag at Tesco or Asda, whereas they came in a 500g bag (and for less) at Aldi.
This is a huge benefit for people who don’t have a huge family, or who want to eat carrots every single night!
Food wastage is a huge problem in the UK and has an obvious financial impact on your weekly grocery budget. If Aldi’s smaller sized packets help us reduce this, even better!
So, are discount supermarkets cheaper than the mainstream supermarkets? Damn right they are!! C an you guess where I’m doing all my weekly shops from now on…??