James Moore: Lidl luxuries are drawing in those 'squeezed middle' shoppers

 

Outlook Britain's so-called squeezed middle has found a solution to Ed Miliband's cost of living crisis. It's called Aldi – or Lidl.

The discounters might not offer the range of the big four supermarkets, but people who go there often find they are pleasantly surprised by the quality of what is on offer.

Inflation might have finally fallen to the level of the Bank of England's 2 per cent target (you could hear the sighs of relief in Threadneedle Street from miles away) but that's still ahead of most wage settlements. So it's no wonder that the number of discount shoppers is growing.

Why pay more when you don't need to? The discounters have even managed to offer posh wine and other luxuries on the cheap.

It's working a treat. This can be seen in the fact that, of the big four British supermarkets, only Sainsbury's managed to maintain its market share over Christmas. It's going to get back its position as the number two supermarket chain by standing still.

Interestingly, the top end of the market is doing quite nicely thank you very much, as the performance of Waitrose and Marks & Spencer's Food amply demonstrates.

Those for whom money isn't a problem like to show it by shopping at these places. Others are finding there are benefits of mixing it up a bit, using the discounters for the basics while making sure the Waitrose label is prominently displayed on the dinner-party cheese. It doesn't hurt that customer service isn't an entirely alien concept there.

Meanwhile, the big four are finding that they are becoming a squeezed middle.

Sainsbury's may feel (with some justification) that's its current strategy doesn't need much of a change to cope with this, while Asda, with Walmart's muscle behind it, could try taking on their discounters at their own game (although its stores can be horrible).

As for Morrisons, if its online offering isn't a hit, a takeover bid could follow. Keep an eye on those shares.

And Tesco? Saddled with its antiseptic and unfriendly aircraft hangars, it seems to think that the answer to the challenge of the discounters is to open a convenience store every hundreds metres or so, à la Costa Coffee. It's a good thing the competition authorities appear to have other concerns.

Tesco has already crimped shareholders' returns by pouring cash into sprucing up its staff and stores. But that may not be enough. Its shareholders may just have to accept a cut price offering from now on.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor - OTE £95,000

£40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

competitive: SThree: Are you passionate about sales?Do you have a keen interes...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Adviser - OTE £30,000

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created