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'Never knew food could be so cheap' - Reporter visits Lidl for first time in hunt for fry up bargains

PUBLISHED: 11:42 09 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:45 09 January 2019

The new Lidl supermarket in Sprowston Credit: Louisa Baldwin

The new Lidl supermarket in Sprowston Credit: Louisa Baldwin

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Business writer Caroline Culot enjoys the finer things in life. So with Lidl reporting bumper Christmas sales we sent her to the discount retailer for the first time.

Supermarkets are slashing prices in a new year battle for supremacy.

The big four – Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda – are spooked by the German invasion of Aldi and Lidl.

This Christmas the discounters outperformed the big names and the evidence points to a growing number of middleclass shoppers abandoning the comfort of Sainsbury’s and Waitrose for value.

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According to one poll an incredible two thirds of households visited one of the discount stores before Christmas.

But I have a confession – I always assumed shopping at Aldi or Lidl would be chaos, like Black Friday and the Boxing Day sales rolling into one hellish, retail nightmare. Friends have recounted how good quality the chocolate and wine is but I’ve never seen the attraction of buying confectionary made by a firm I hadn’t heard of until recently. And I didn’t think I was up for battling it out for baggy tracksuit bottoms in the famous (infamous?) ‘Lidl middle aisle’.

But, I told myself, you’re never too old to try something new – and I was very pleasantly surprised.

I ventured into Lidl on Drayton Road, Norwich, where I was really impressed to see a bakery with some very appetising pastries on sale. Note to self: must stop on way into work when not on a diet.

Price comparison: Full EnglishPrice comparison: Full English

I was tasked with buying ingredients for a price comparison of that most British of dishes – the full-on breakfast fry-up. And I was delighted to find a huge display of fresh tomatoes.

On to bacon and the fresh meat section was astonishing; again, a huge selection, beautifully presented and smoked back bacon for £1.49. Looking for baked beans, a single, non brand, tin was 23p and a loaf of bread, 50p. I never knew food could be so cheap.

I spoke to Joshua Bamford, director for the Centre for Retail Research, based at Union House, Norwich, about the impact the discount retailers were having. He said: “What we are seeing now are retailers responding to our changing buying habits and playing the ‘Discount Game’.

“The future may bring consolidation, however, with fewer stores as prices are driven down so much, eventually the profit margin just isn’t enough. So it may not be such good news for consumers in the end.”

Caroline Culot makes her first shopping trip to Lidl. Pic: www.edp24.co.ukCaroline Culot makes her first shopping trip to Lidl. Pic: www.edp24.co.uk

Oh dear. But for now at least if you are on a budget, don’t mind packing your bags at break-neck speed and willing to forgo some brand names, Lidl is a must.

I gave the baggy trackie bottoms a miss though.

The wonderful array of fresh tomatoes at Lidl. Pic: www.edp24.co.ukThe wonderful array of fresh tomatoes at Lidl. Pic: www.edp24.co.uk

The bakery section at Lidl. Pic: www.edp24.co.ukThe bakery section at Lidl. Pic: www.edp24.co.uk

The vast selection of fresh produce at Lidl. Pic: www.edp24.co.ukThe vast selection of fresh produce at Lidl. Pic: www.edp24.co.uk

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