Lidl sausage rolls

It’s the first time we’ve pitted Lidl against Aldi in the G33, and the former came out 24p cheaper

Lidl was the cheapest supermarket in The Grocer’s first-ever ‘Super 33’, but by the narrowest of margins from arch-rival Aldi.

At just £45.64, Lidl’s basket was just 24p (or 0.5%) cheaper than Aldi’s £45.88 total – while the big four supermarkets were left trailing in their wake.

It’s the first time we’ve pitted Lidl against Aldi in our Grocer 33 weekly price comparison survey. And whereas ‘victory’ in their guest appearances against the British supermarkets is normally a formality, this was a chance to see how their prices, on a weighted basket of 33 closely matched grocery items, compare against one another. And the result shows how closely the two discounters match one another on price. Lidl was cheapest on 21 of the 33 items. Aldi was cheapest on 20. On four products Aldi was exclusively cheapest; Lidl was exclusively cheapest on six. But these are fine margins. Lidl was 20p cheaper on the cheddar. Aldi was 21p cheaper on the Colgate. In the end it probably boiled down to a 50p difference on the sausage rolls, after Lidl lowered the price from last month by 40p, one of only two price cuts. 

The Super 33 was also a chance to see how competitive the British supermarkets are against the discounters, against the backdrop of soaring inflation and the cost of living crisis. And the short answer is: not particularly well. Lidl was 11.7% cheaper than nearest big four rival Asda’s £51.69 trolley, with Morrisons (£51.74), Tesco (£52.21) and Sainsbury’s (£52.82) not far behind. In fact you might say there’s two races going on here realistically: one between the discounters and the other between the big four, separated by £1.13 between them. (Waitrose, on the other hand, was way off the pace: Lidl’s basket was 31% cheaper.)

Tesco and Sainsbury’s have Aldi price match schemes, of course, but there was limited evidence of matching in their baskets. Tesco matched Aldi on 10 lines, and was exclusively cheapest on the milk. Nor was Tesco able to make its Clubcard Prices count. There were no savings to be had on this selection.

It was a similar story at Sainsbury’s. It this week vowed to double down on its Aldi price pledge but matched it on just four lines and was exclusively cheapest on just the pizza.

In a basket heavily weighted towards own-label basics, promotions were limited, with Morrisons offering the most at five.

The shop was also notable for higher than average inflation of 9.6% year on year and 1.8% month on month.

Asda’s basket was most notable for having the highest level of inflation at 13.4%, with Morrisons at 10.4% and Sainsbury’s 9.9%. Tesco (7%) had the lowest rate of inflation, lower even than Aldi (8.8%) and Lidl (10.8%). In fact, Lidl had price rises on more items (16) than any other retailer.

Inflation also varied significantly. The biggest increase in price was on the spaghetti, up 46% on average, but there was steep inflation on several items, including the vegetable oil (41%), white loaf (30%), milk (28%), butter (26%), eggs (23%) and crumpets (22%).

According to the latest stats, food price inflation is currently running a lot lower than these levels. Kantar puts the latest inflation at 7% [4w/e 15 May] while the BRC Shop Price Index also from May suggested a lower figure of 4.3%. The higher figures here partly reflect the fact these items were collected more recently but mostly relates to the fact that many basics, as primary produce, are more exposed to raw material price hikes. A recent study by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that staples such as minced beef, bread and rice recorded significantly larger increases. The cost of living, or rate of inflation, rose to over 10% in May, said the ONS. This week the Bank of England raised interest rates to 1.25%.