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Friday, November 20, 2015

Aldi vs. Walmart

Perhaps I am not stating anything new, or I am rehashing old "sentiments," since I have written about my liking of the way Aldi Stores does things, and areas where I think Walmart seriously misses the mark many times before in the past. The fact is that when it comes to anything shopping related, and saving money in general, I am pretty good at what I do, and in no way I am trying to be vain about that.

The more I compare the two stores, Aldi and Walmart, the more convinced I become that there are more advantages to Aldi than there are to Walmart. These days I actually have to say that the best value a shopper can take advantage of comes from Aldi. Not so long ago you would have heard me continue to cite that Walmart mostly beats out the competition on price.

That is no more.

There are myriad items I find are much cheaper at Aldi than at Walmart, and let's be clear I am talking about unit cost here. Not overall price. Size matters when it comes to shopping for the best deal, as does knowing your prices when you shop. But moreover, knowing what you pay per pound, per square inch, and per ounce. That really is the art of comparing apples to apples, folks.

For example, let's take canned vegetables (even though I have recently shifted to frozen vegetables). The average price for the Aldi preferred brand is around 40 cents while Walmart's cheapest alternative is around 65 cents. Canned mushrooms are cheaper. So are Dakota's Best baked beans at Aldi, which by the way stack up rather nicely to even Bush's Best or the Great Value brand at Walmart. Tomato paste and tomato sauce are also significantly cheaper than anything offered at Walmart. And when it comes to some of those items, these are household staples.

Other items people like to buy that are cheaper at Aldi stores?

  • Prepared noodles, be they the Reganno boxed variety or Aldi's mac and cheese
  • Jarred spaghetti sauce
  • Potato chips
  • Snack crackers
  • Take 'N Bake pizza
For the past three or so months I have also been buying my russet potatoes from Aldi. Why? Because a 10 pound bag of these at Aldi averages about $1.98 while Walmart's best price is about $3 more. A potato is a potato, right? Apples to apples.

But there is something else about Aldi that definitely wins very high marks. That is that despite a high volume of customer activity, and often times a higher volume of goods per cartload, Aldi gets you through their checkout line fast. The only complaint I have sometimes is that they do not take as much care with my canned goods, tossing them too roughly into the cart, causing denting which I detest. But even that is not an oft experienced thing.

Today I went to Walmart for a few essentials such as eggs, sliced cheese, beer (yes, beer is considered an essential in my household), jarred minced garlic, flavored waters, and so on and so forth. I of course got the best price since I bought these items there for that very reason. But the checkout time? Abysmal. I was in a line 3 deep and it took me fifteen minutes with relatively lowly filled carts just to advance to my own checkout. Even when I got there I swore the cashier was dead since she was barely moving. When you count in your head between beeps, you should never be able to get to "five, one thousand." But I was able to.

Walmart still holds the line on many items for me, and certainly when we are comparing stores ultimately, Walmart of course offers many more items and varieties of items. That all aside, my end result in my comparisons between the two stores is this; lower per item cost at Aldi, better overall experience at Aldi, more value for the money at Aldi, and certainly better customer service at Aldi.

If there is any store out there giving Walmart a real run for their money and taking up quite a lot of valuable market share, it has to be Aldi. I will certainly continue to shop there so long as their prices are good, and so long as the quality of their products are good (which both are). There are so many reasons why shopping at Aldi is simply overall a better experience. If Aldi offered the same level of goods as Walmart did I am certain the value would be there, and I would have no reason to shop Walmart at all.

Both Aldi and Walmart would be wise to pay attention to that.

Imagine for a moment the opening of the first Aldi Super Store. I bet it would go over like gangbusters. And if anyone could figure out the best and most efficient way to manage an operation  like that, it might just be a company like Aldi. Sadly it is a German company. But in the world of business what matters most is service, value, and quality, and if Aldi can find a way to do better than American owned Walmart...

That is exactly where my money will go.

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