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Watch out, Aldi-there’s a new grocery store in town. Meet Lidl (pronounced “leedle”), the German retailer that tops the leader board as Europe’s largest discount grocery chain. After years of success overseas, the firm plans to expand its market to the United States, bringing with it an entirely new shopping experience.
Never heard of Lidl? Don’t be surprised. Not many people in the U.S. have–yet. Until earlier this summer, Lidl was a grocery chain limited exclusively to Europe, where it operates 10,000 stores. This summer, 20 Lidl stores have opened in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, making its first appearance on U.S. soil. By next summer, the firm plans to open 80 more stores from sea to shining sea. But is Lidl worth trading in your trips to Trader Joe’s? Let’s find out.
1. It’s going to be easier to find stuff.
Grocery shopping in the United States is an experience unlike any other. A typical store offers as many as a dozen aisles holding bountiful products, so if you’re just looking for a jar of peanut butter, you’ll most likely be presented with 20 different brands, flavors, sizes and products. (If ever you need help narrowing that down, we have you covered.) With such an overload of choices, it can be a little difficult to find what you’re looking for, and that’s exactly why Lidl thinks it is going to be successful in the U.S. market. Lidl prides itself in narrowing down your choices for each item so that you have only two peanut butters to choose from: the leading brand and an inexpensive private-label replacement.
With much less bulk, Lidl offers a different set-up than your typical American grocery store. In Europe, most people stop at the store almost every day to pick up ingredients for that night’s dinner, whereas there is a larger trend in the U.S. for customers to shop in bulk and buy the entire week’s groceries in one trip. (Hello, meal planning!) To account for these changes, the American versions of Lidl stores are going to be bigger than most of their largest stores overseas, but they’re still going to have only six aisles at the most. That means the end to hours of waltzing up and down aisles searching for the ketchup. You can thank German innovation for that.
2. You’re going to be able to find some crazy discounts.
Just like Aldi, Lidl has built their brand on offering products at the intersection of high-quality and low-cost. Business Insider has deemed Lidl’s brand as a cross between Trader Joe’s and Walmart. It’s basically the best of both worlds. Lidl offers an array of items without synthetic colors, trans fats or added MSG that won’t break the budget. Celebrity chefs stock the shelves with award-winning cheeses, certifiably sustained seafood and high-quality floral arrangements. Plus, for any vino fans out there, Lidl is famous for its stock of exclusive wines offered at 50% less than conventional grocery stores. (Pair those with these date-night dinners and you have yourself a thrifty night in!)
3. It’s not just food.
Fans of TJ Maxx will love this next feature. We already know that Lidl has six aisles to hold its packaged food products, but strangely enough, the store is popular in Europe for its non-grocery items as well. Exactly what is sold? It’s a little random. Company executives say you can find anything from electric drills to skinny jeans to lawn mowers at insane discounts, almost like a grab-bag clearance rack. Lidl stores plan to cycle new items in and out of this section each week, leading to a treasure hunt where you never know if you’re going to find something worth buying.
4. There will be free samples.
If you’re still not persuaded to check out Lidl, just know that it is the type of store to give out tiny bites of banana bread in its bakery section. Forget all the other perks about shopping at Lidl. We’re sold!
Looking for more thrifty shopping tips? Check out our 10 Secrets to Grocery Shopping Like a Boss.