But at two of the UK’s largest supermarkets, an entire section of the store changes completely every week.
Aldi and Lidl have central aisles full of miscellaneous goods to purchase.
One week those aisles might be filled with camping gear, while the next week it might be paint and rollers.
In both cases, the aisles operate on a “once it’s gone, it’s gone” basis.
So if your supermarket is out of stock, there will be no more orders.
To test to see which one is better, journalist Brad Gray traveled to Pitsea to shop at Aldi and Lidl, which are just 200 yards apart.
Middle of LidlPitsea Lidl is a stone’s throw from the nearby Aldi, and this is the store I went to first.
I parked, put on my mask, and headed for the supermarket.
It was a busy Wednesday afternoon and Lidl was packed.
I walked straight to the “Middle of Lidl,” which was actually towards the back of the store.
So how big was the “Middle of Lidl”?
It actually occupied a large part of the store, with two and a half aisles dedicated to special items.
This has been separated into two aisles for non-food items and drinks and a half aisle filled with special food and drink items that are not normally sold at Lidl.
What did we find in the non-food section?
According to Lidl’s website, the “Middle of Lidl” items on sale when I visited followed six themes.
- Kitchen essentials
- Summer essentials
- Indoor and outdoor plants
- Bathroom accessories
- Recycled plastic sneakers
- Housewares and sewing
Maybe that would explain some of the weird things I found there.
I’ve always joked that Lidl is the only store where eggplants can be placed next to the campsite toilets and no one beats their eyelids.
This kind of slap-dash placement was in full force when I visited.
Right next to an entire basket of sneakers were hair straighteners and hairdryers.
While the sneakers aren’t to everyone’s liking, the hair care gear was actually very reasonably priced and in abundance.
All the aisles were well stocked, and although they were messy by nature, they weren’t so messy that it was hard to find things.
Everything had a place and there was a place for everything.
Some big-ticket items I spotted included outdoor patio heaters (£ 99.99), inflatable kayaks (£ 39.99), and microchip cat flaps (£ 49.99).
These aren’t necessarily things I would choose to buy on a random shopping trip to Lidl, but they definitely caught my eye.
Most of the items on sale were aimed at children – with water slides and light-up sneakers, a few of the items on display.
But what really made my day was something that was sold in the food and drink section.
What did we find in the food section?
While vacationing in Scotland a few years ago, I discovered my favorite chips in the world – Mackie’s Cheddar and Onion.
However, they’re notoriously hard to find in Essex, so I was flabbergasted when I saw a whole range of Mackie’s products for sale at Lidl.
I immediately put four large bags in my basket and walked to the checkouts.
Overall, the “Middle of Lidl” offered a wide variety of products that were easy to find.
While none of them I liked, they were really good value for money and in abundance.
Aldi special purchases
After my stay at Lidl, I got back in my car and drove to Aldi.
It was market day in Pitsea – which is located right across from the Aldi – and there was a large queue to enter The Range.
This meant that – as you might expect – Aldi was absolutely blown away, twice as much as Lidl.
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The noise at the checkouts was deafening, so I quickly made my way to the back of the supermarket towards the “Specials” section.
Aldi was already losing to Lidl in the catchy name section of this review, but they weren’t going to drop any points in quantity.
The “Special Purchases” section was equally large, with the bargains spread across two longer, full aisles.
However, those aisles were significantly messier, with some items in a basket clearly mixed up with items they weren’t meant to have joined.
In addition, many baskets were not organized.
These were areas where the actual planned “special buy” was already exhausted.
These baskets became a dumping pile for any overflow or unwanted items, which was not very useful at all.
However, there were a few highlights.
Aldi appeared to have taken the initiative and stockpiled bulk packets of soft drinks before the next heat wave.
These were of great value and proved to be very popular.
There were also Little Tykes branded products, sure to please parents ahead of summer vacation.
According to Aldi’s website, the themes of “special purchases” were:
- Outdoor activities
- Plants and flowers
- Fun at home
I enjoyed these themes, simply because Home Fun and Outdoor Activities cover practically every possible opportunity, because they are completely opposite.
The most expensive item featured was a £ 89.99 family tent, perfect for stays.
Another highlight was essential self-care – spray tan.
Unfortunately, this spray tan was not incredibly popular, as evidenced by the already reduced second-hand price.
I didn’t find anything on my trip that I would consider a treat, so I left empty-handed.
And the winner is….
The middle of Lidl!
Let’s face it, it would have been hard to lose with a name like that.
But that victory was simply between the two supermarkets that week.
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That’s the beauty of shopping at Aldi and Lidl during these events – they change weekly and there is always a new bargain to watch out for.
So be sure to take a trip there in the future if you find yourself in Aldi or Lidl.