If you have not shopped at Aldi yet then your first time is going to provide you with a little bit of a shock. Most people do not know exactly what to expect at these smallish grocery stores so I put together this Aldi review to help you be ready and adjust faster to this money saving shopping experience.
The Aldi Stores
Aldi stores are much smaller than your typical grocery store. Think more along the lines of a large CVS instead of your big supermarkets. This is not to say that Aldi is lacking in what groceries you can purchase just that they manage to keep their stores smaller so that they can fit them easily into urban areas and pay much less for real estate.
DO NOT FORGET YOUR QUARTER. Each shopping cart has a little chain that attaches to a small box. When you want a cart you put a quarter into the box and the chain pops out. When you bring your cart back to the cart return you put the end of the chain back into the box and your quarter pops out. So do not forget your quarter because it stinks to wait for someone to return a cart to give them two dimes and a nickel.
What to Expect Inside
So Aldi is kind of a more Spartan version of any grocery store you have been to. They do not take products out of the boxes. They instead have boxes that display the product and people take items directly out of those boxes.
There is exactly one kind of any type of item. This means that instead of having to choose from six different types of ketchup you get to choose from one.
Almost all of these items are generic. They do carry a few name brand products but these are few and far between. As with other retailers these generic brands are made by brand name manufacturers. Their flour is from White Lilly and sugar from Dixie Crystal and the list goes on and on. Overall I have had very few bad experiences with Aldi products and I am a very picky eater.
Aldi does not give you grocery bags. You either need to bring your own or purchase them at the register. Most people either bring their own or grab a few of the boxes that were holding products and are now empty.
Finally, Aldi does not accept credit cards. You can only pay with cash or debit. I know that makes people who are credit card reward addicts sad but when you get used to Aldi prices then you will be a lot happier working with the inconvenience.
Aldi Saves You Money by Saving Money
The generic brands, the carts, the boxes, the no credit card policy, they are all ways that Aldi cuts their costs and is able to pass that savings on to you. Let’s examine how these odd practices save you money.
- The Boxes – By not spending time pulling every item out of the box they are able to more quickly stock the store and that means less employees are needed and thus lower costs per store.
- The Carts – Similar to the boxes. Not paying someone to go out and collect carts cuts the need for more employees and thus lower cost per store.
- Credit Cards – There are fees for every transaction done with a credit card. These are much higher than for debit cards. No credit cards means that Aldi does not pay anything close to the fees the bigger stores do.
- Generic Brands – Aldi negotiates much better prices by leveraging their buying power. It is what everyone does but Aldi seems to be keeping up with the best of them and then besting them on the other areas of saving.
- Bags – U.S. retailers spend about $4 Billion a year on bags. Aldi accounts for zero of that. It’s might be a slight advantage when getting their prices lower.
What About Coupons?
Aldi does accept coupons, but since almost all their products are generic so it is not a strategy you will usually use when shopping at this store. They did have a coupon, one time, that was for $5 off a $25 purchase and people just about lost their minds using them.
How Much Can You Save at Aldi?
Aldi will save you about 30% over the standard grocery stores if you are not shopping with coupons. To put that in perspective, Wal-Mart will typically save you about 20%. When I did a price comparison, when Wal-Mart had a lower price than Aldi it was typically by just a few pennies. When Aldi was lower it was always by much more. Sometimes as much as 50₵. Over time that adds up fast.
The saving that most do not realize when they start shopping at Aldi is time. When you do not have to think about which apple sauce is cheaper or which brand of frozen pizza is on sale it makes your shopping trip less stressful. In fact if you are married to someone who is not a good grocery shopper then I recommend giving them a list and sending them to Aldi. It will turn out much better than sending them to the big store with all those options.
How I Use Aldi
Aldi is my everyday grocery shopping store. This means that I check the sale ads for my local big box grocery store and see if there is something that is an absolute steal. For everything else, I shop at Aldi. This combination shopping saves us a lot of money over shopping at just one store with coupons.