DISCOUNT supermarkets Aldi and Lidl have been ranked ahead of Marks & Spencer in a new customer satisfaction survey for consumer group Which?
While upmarket Waitrose is still the best-rated supermarket in the UK, Aldi and Lidl are in second and third place, with M&S in fourth.
The annual survey also reveals the nation is falling out of love with Tesco – which is ranked lowest with a customer satisfaction score of 45 per cent.
Shoppers say the biggest irritation when shopping in supermarkets is not being able to compare prices because of complicated unit measurements, with 37 per cent saying they found it difficult to work out which were the best deals.
Which? members said they wanted supermarket special offers to be simple – with 55 per cent saying they would rather see discounted products than offers such as petrol prices or “buy one get one free” deals.
Aldi and Lidl both received four-star ratings on price with 97 per cent of Which? members saying they offered good value. The discount stores, both German-owned, beat M&S, Sainsbury’s, Asda and the Co-op in terms of overall customer satisfaction.
The cheaper supermarkets both lost points on store environment, with Aldi rated two out of five and Lidl one out of five. However, both scored highly on the quality of their fresh produce, with both no-frills supermarkets earning four out of five.
Both Lidl and Aldi have made concerted efforts to attract middle-class shoppers in recent years, introducing high-quality wines, confectionary and delicatessen products alongside their basic range of products.
Tesco scored only two out of five for customer service, ownbrand products, value and special offers, store environment and range and availability.
The Co-operative also scored badly for food quality, freshness and value.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “Our research shows that rising food prices are one of consumers’ top financial worries, so in these tough economic times it’s understandable that supermarkets scoring well for value for money are being ranked so highly in our league table.
“But our survey also found that consumers think supermarkets are not doing enough to help shoppers on tight budgets, with only one in five Which? members saying they trust retailers to charge a fair price for food.
“We want supermarkets to make a firm commitment to treat their customers fairly by scrapping misleading price promotions and introducing clear, consistent unit pricing so busy shoppers can spot the real bargains.”
Retail analyst Neil Saunders, of Conlumino, said that he thought the results reflected “polarisation” in the market
He added: “At Christmas, we saw excellent growth from Waitrose and also from Aldi. Waitrose is head and shoulders above the others in terms of quality and service, but Aldi is a stand-out leader on price. The problem with Tesco is, it is not exciting. It does what it sets out to do, but it is all getting a bit tired.”
The rankings come as another report reveals just how dependent the UK consumer now is on supermarkets.
The report from the Payments Council – which oversees card transactions – shows 58p of every pound spent in retailers is now spent in supermarkets – up from 46p in 2001.
Around £181 billion was spent in supermarkets in 8.7bn transactions according to the latest figures, which show sales in 2011. Supermarkets also took 33p in every pound spent in petrol – almost triple the amount taken ten years ago.