Grocery prices have certainly risen since supermarket chain Aldi arrived in the U.S. in the 1970s. What’s more, prices have even gone up in the last four or five years, making it difficult for families to keep up with inflation. However, Aldi has been there through it all.
Is Aldi expensive, though? What have you heard about this German-based grocer that is popping up with new stores all over the country? Keep reading to learn more!
Is Aldi Expensive In 2023?
Aldi is one of the most affordable supermarkets in the U.S. as of 2023. While individually they may be beaten at certain prices by competitors, they are almost always less expensive than your typical grocery store. Furthermore, Aldi belongs to a sub-category of retailers known as “deep-discount,” along with Walmart and others.
To learn more about how Aldi stacks up next to the competition, like Walmart, Target, and Costco, why Aldi can achieve such low prices, and what might not be the best to buy at Aldi, keep reading!
Is Aldi Cheaper Than Other Supermarkets?
If you have chains like Kroger, Giant Eagle, Wegmans, Whole Foods, and Publix in your area, then you know that Aldi is cheaper.
Even with their own store brands, in many cases, they simply cannot compete with Aldi’s overall business model, which is calibrated to give customers the lowest prices.
However, what about Aldi’s closest competition?
Stores like Walmart, their subsidiary Sam’s Club, Trader Joe’s, Target, and even Costco base their own grocery models on deep discounts.
Therefore, let’s take a closer look at how Aldi stacks up with these other guys.
Price-wise, the two tend to be very similar. If one beats out the other, it’s usually by only a few cents or even one cent.
2. Sam’s Club
Sam’s Club, despite being a subsidiary of Walmart, actually isn’t as competitive with Aldi as their parent company.
Southern Savers found that the membership-based bulk warehouse-style retailer loses to Aldi almost completely price-wise.
However, the areas where Sam’s beats out Aldi, according to the site, are specialty grocery items, some meats and cheeses, and some household items.
3. Trader Joe’s
Trader Joe’s can be difficult to gauge because so many of its products are “specialty items”.
However, if you can get close to finding comparable items (as Real Simple did here), Aldi does come out the winner where prices are concerned.
Target is slightly more upscale/upmarket discount retail, but in recent years, they have really stepped up the competitiveness of their groceries.
On the whole, though, according to the Passionate Penny Pincher’s excellent research, Target tends to be just a few cents more expensive than Aldi on most products.
However, if you look at prices closely, you might find a few products where Target is actually the cheaper option – brownie mix, for example, and organic coconut oil.
Costco, despite costing more upfront, tends to have lower prices per ounce than Aldi!
Therefore, in multiple instances, Costco is cheaper than Aldi, when you look at the price per weight.
However, this is the same with Sam’s Club, though; you end up buying way more of an individual item than you would at Aldi.
Why Is Aldi So Cheap?
Aldi’s low prices aren’t an accident; the company has long pursued a business model that embraces low operational costs, which then allows them to pass savings onto the customer.
Some ways it does this are:
- Making 90 percent of the store’s inventory a house brand
- Building smaller stores that cost less in utilities
- Having more limited store hours
- “Training” customers to bag their own groceries and return their carts
- Keeping stores staffed with only 3-4 people at a time
- Letting cashiers sit (they scan faster while sitting!)
- No fancy floor displays; products go on shelves in the boxes they traveled in
- No music in the majority of stores
- Nixing items that don’t sell and bringing back ones that do (Aldi really listens to its customers, too)
- Not offering any extra services, like check or money order cashing, purchasing stamps, etc.
Can you think of any other regular grocery store that does things like this? No? Well, that’s why Aldi is one of the very few retailers that can offer the prices it does.
Is Everything Cheaper At Aldi?
As it happens, not everything is cheaper at Aldi. For example, one big offender is: Name brands.
That’s right, when you see a name brand at Aldi, while the company did negotiate a good price on it, you’d probably be able to find it cheaper at Walmart or even a regular grocery store.
This brings us to another important point: Aldi doesn’t accept manufacturer’s coupons, and its name-brand items rarely go on sale.
So if you’re loyal to a specific brand and you see it at Aldi, it’s worth leaving it there and checking elsewhere for a better price.
Is Aldi Becoming More Expensive?
Aldi strives to maintain the lowest prices possible, but when the price of everything else goes up, so must Aldi’s food prices.
If inflation is touching your part of the country, then you will likely see Aldi’s prices rise as well.
Furthermore, the Aldi Red Bag Chicken, which sold for about $7 for years, went up to over $9 in 2022.
Is Aldi’s Food Good Quality?
As affordable as Aldi’s prices are, none of that matters if the food quality is bad. Luckily, most of Aldi’s inventory is as good as, or better, than popular name brands.
However, where you might want to consider paying more and finding slightly better quality is in its produce and meats.
Furthermore, Aldi’s produce has a reputation for going bad quickly, and it’s mostly all prepackaged, so you have to buy in bulk.
Additionally, Aldi’s meat can be hit or miss, but customers of Kroger swear by that chain’s meat department, where it’s more consistently high quality and fresh.
Aldi is not expensive, and it is in fact one of the most affordable grocery stores out there. Therefore, you absolutely can save money by shopping at Aldi.
However, it does pay to do a little research and shop around, because while Aldi tends to be the most affordable all-around grocery store, you might save on individual items elsewhere.