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- Aldi is a low-priced grocery stores with over 2,000 US locations.
- As inflation drives grocery prices up, customers are searching for deals.
- Upon visiting my local Aldi, I was impressed by all the private-label brands and affordable prices.
Aldi is a discount grocery chain founded in Essen, Germany in 1961. In 1976, the company opened its first US location in Iowa and today it has more than 2,000 stores in 36 states.
I visited an Aldi location in Rochester, New York. To pick up a cart at the entrance of the store, I had to put a quarter inside to unlatch it from the rest of the carts.
As retailers grapple with a shortage of workers, eliminating low pay positions is one way businesses can stay ahead.
Most of the fruits and vegetables — including apples, celery, and cucumbers — were pre-wrapped in plastic.
In a recent price comparison, Aldi had lower prices on produce than Walmart did.
Source: Ramsey Solutions
The rest of the store looked similar to the produce aisle.
Products are on shelves right inside their cardboard packaging.
Or, they’re still in pallets used for transportation.
This also saves money on labor, because workers don’t have to spend time unboxing each product and arranging them on shelves.
Aldi stores are a bit smaller than traditional grocery stores at about 12,000 square feet, with just five large aisles.
Another way Aldi keeps costs down is by selling private-label brands.
The chain says more than 90% of its products are Aldi brands.
Aldi does sell some well-known brands like Coca Cola, but the Aldi private label version is stocked right next to it.
Aldi takes care to make its products look similar to brand names. These boxes of macaroni and cheese could definitely pass for Kraft without a closer look.
Though they look the same, Aldi’s mac and cheese it about a third of the price at 34 cents per box compared to 98 cents for the same size of Kraft at Walmart.
Aldi’s flavored seltzers are right next to LaCroix, and the boxes are even decorated in similar styles.
The meat section was well stocked, though smaller than at a Walmart in my area. The prices were among the best deals in the store, though.
Next to the meat there was a large freezer section with frozen meals, snacks, and desserts.
A section in the center of the store seemed to be made up of odds and ends, with storage items, appliances, toys, and other mismatched items.
Aldi also cuts costs at the checkout aisle, where cashiers save time by not bagging groceries.
Customers can take their carts to a shelf against the back wall and bag groceries themselves into reusable bags Aldi sells or free boxes to carry heavy items.
Aldi’s branding is built around its budget strategy — its biggest fans know what they’re getting with low-cost groceries and no-frills aisles.
Some areas of the store seemed a bit disheveled, but customers didn’t seem to mind.
The chain has found a successful niche among budget-conscious shoppers in the US.
As inflation continues to drive up grocery costs, it could also lead more shoppers to Aldi in search of deals.
In 2020, Aldi was the fastest growing grocery store chain in the US.
The chain plans to open 150 US stores in 2022, plus a new distribution center in Alabama.
These openings would make it the third largest grocery store in the US, behind only Walmart and Kroger.
I hadn’t been to Aldi in years, but I was impressed. I’ll definitely be back to take advantage of deals and lower costs on produce and meat compared to my usual stops.
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