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.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
News
news

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Travel
travel

...and the perfect time to visit them

Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

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

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Recruitment Consultant - Soho - IT, Pharma, Public Sector

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000 first year: SThree: The SThree group i...

Sales Executive

£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Payroll & Accounts Assistant

£20 - 24k + Benefits: Guru Careers: This is a great opportunity for an enthusi...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week