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USA: "German discounters" are accepted everywhere, Aldi and Lidl conquer the Big Apple

Updated: Aug 18, 2022

German sourdough bread, pretzels, wheat yeast, typical German specialties are well received in the USA. In New York, the discount retail chains Lidl and Aldi are benefiting from this.

How does the German discounter Lidl pronounce itself? The US customers don't care. "I only knew Aldi," says one customer, "I think these are brothers who then broke up." Well, something like that. No matter if it's true: The New Yorker from Queens has lost her heart to the "German Supermarket". She is completely obsessed with shopping in the bright new store that, apart from most US products, could be anywhere in Germany and has just opened in her Astoria neighborhood.

The queue then moved around two blocks. "I am here for the third time this week," says the customer. Fish and meat and German bread and vegetables and in general: "The prices are great! Astoria has become so expensive. In this supermarket I can afford all the organic things."

German chains make the competition

Lidl US, Aldi US and Aldi Nord subsidiary Trader Joe's: have become a real competitor for the big US supermarkets. Lidl has only been around for three and a half years with 145 stores now. After starting problems, the group now wants to conquer the east coast. Aldi has over 2,000 stores since the 1970s and the trend is growing, says US boss Jason Hart: "Our sales are better than the average of the US markets. And that encourages us to move into existing stores as well as new ones to invest. "They are cheaper than the US competition. Whether with more own private label brands like Aldi or with more A-branded items like Lidl. Pallets in the aisles, cardboard boxes on the shelves even in the glamorous city of New York, the economical German concept is popular, says Lidl spokesman William Harwood: "It's the glamor of saving. Putting more into your basket. Bring more to your family's home. "

Less is more? Especially since New Yorkers have been at the stove themselves more often since Corona and home office. And that without being constantly spoiled for choice, says Constantin Mellinghoff, who sells German groceries to retailers and markets in the USA: "If you go to an ordinary American supermarket, you will find at least ten different bottles of ketchup, for example." Aldi, Lidl or Trader Joe's would only offer one bottle instead "and the quality is so good that you don't need a second one," says Mellinghoff. In the tightly-timed New York transmission, this concept is well received, says Lidl spokesman Harwood: "You can do your shopping faster. Normally you need 45 minutes, you have to go through 50 aisles with 50,000 assortment articles. With us you can get through in 20 minutes."

One discounter, one concept: the Lidl stores in the USA differ little in appearance from the markets in Germany.

German specialties, American special requests: Fresh Pretzels, German sourdough bread, wheat beer and a DIY set in the special offer shopping basket: German discounters also score points with newcomers with seasonal items, for example with Aldi customer Tanja: "It's nice to see a few German products, such as Christmas dominoes or gingerbread. Or sometimes Viennese sausages from time to time. "Sometimes other customer requests get lost in the German assortment: Wouldn't the new Lidl in Queens also include kosher products? Wouldn't the store on the chic offshore island of Long Island also serve champagne? "German discounters" are accepted everywhere, says Diana Smith from the market research institute Mintel. "The desire for a good price-performance ratio runs through all income groups. Markets like Aldi also often target an audience that earns better." The internal struggle of the German discounters for the east coast metropolis continues.

Newcomer Lidl wants to come to Manhattan soon. Aldi is already there. In the customer ranking of the newspaper "USA Today", however, Lidl is leading: In front of hundreds of US markets, the chain is in third place. Aldi followed closely in fifth place.

Source: Antje Passenheim, ARD-Studio New York

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