IF, AS the saying goes, the customer is always right, then the future of British grocery shopping could soon start to look very different.
In the past three months, one in two of us has been to either Aldi or Lidl – the so-called budget supermarkets that now make up a combined seven per cent of the total market. If you haven’t been yourself, then chances are that guy opposite you in the Tube carriage has. Maybe even your boss’s boss has succumbed to the cut-price continental meat selections and wild lobster tails (yes, lobster).
Whoever has been pouring through the doors is onto a good thing – both now offer a vast range of fresh and packaged produce at seriously competitive prices. It’s no wonder the bigger supermarkets are shaken up.
Though the two brands might not be particularly visible in central London – more common at the moment in areas where shoppers drive to pick up their groceries – that’s unlikely to last for long. These guys are growing, and fast.
Aldi opened its 500th store in upmarket Bury St Edmunds in October as part of a push to add 50 over the year, while Lidl is planning to double its UK presence by opening 30 stores a year.
At the same time their average customers are changing. So called ABC1s (the traditional middle classes) made up just 25 per cent of shoppers in 2011. Last year that rose to 41 per cent – Aldi is no longer the reserve of the cash-strapped student stocking up for a house party.
So by all means go in for the Christmas deals this week, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself coming back well into the New Year.