Claire Smith: Supermarkets please note: a good rummage is secret to success
APPARENTLY they once had cement mixers for sale at Aldi in Haddington.
“They were very hard to display,” the manager told me. I’m not allowed to reveal his name because these German supermarket chains have very high levels of secrecy.
I was at Aldi this week to check out what is behind their soaring profits. At the store, next to the river at the edge of town, I was very pleasantly surprised by what I’d found.
Some are claiming the discount supermarket’s new-found popularity among the middle classes is due to its upmarket offerings of rump steak, champagne, high-class chocolate truffles and Chateauneuf du Pape. I must say the vacuum-packed steak did look fantastic. And the champagne has had some very good reviews.
But the people I found, are going to Aldi for the same reason they always did – because they love a bargain.
It is true the discount supermarkets have undergone a bit of a makeover. Where once there were piles of boxes and the atmosphere of an eastern European market, today’s supermarkets are tidier and less chaotic.
But I’m convinced the utterly bizarre non-food sections are a big part of the attraction. New items come in every Thursday and Sunday, and you can never tell what weird and wonderful selections of objects you will find in the middle aisle.
This week Aldi was selling radios, dog food, fur-lined plastic clogs, door mats, aluminium trolleys, occasional tables, paper shredders, and one all-in-one PC/TV. In the summer months you can find super- cheap tents and they’ve been known to sell equestrian items, wetsuits and submarines (not really, but I wouldn’t put it past them).
Everyone I spoke to said they loved having a poke about. They felt good about saving money but also secretly having a bit of fun.
The retail analysts poring over the profit sheets will never be able to quantify it and the owners may never admit it, but I reckon having a good old rummage is one of the secrets to its success.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
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Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
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