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From creating a thorough list, to researching the best recipes to serve you and your family, to keeping everything under a certain budget, shopping for groceries each week can be exhausting. This is especially true when you are conducting a grocery store price comparison on store brand and private label products when trying to keep the grocery bill low and be a frugal shopper.
Half the battle is deciding which grocery store or retailer is going to have the best deals and customer experience. In this brief guide, we’ll detail the ins and outs of shopping at Aldi vs Walmart, highlighting the pros of each store as well some of their drawbacks. For the sake of this article, we’ll keep our focus on grocery items and prices.
A Guide to Shopping at Aldi
While Walmart is a veritable American icon, you may not be as familiar with Aldi. Founded in 1961 in Germany, Aldi now boasts more than 2,000 stores across 36 states in the U.S.
Aldi is proudly “no-frills” and super cheap, selling a smattering of well-known products but focusing primarily on their own in-house brand. When you peruse the aisles at Aldi, you’ll notice that items are still in their original packaging, with huge cardboard boxes cut open to reveal specialty candies, cereal, granola bars, and more.
Aldi saves time and money by not having employees empty items from their original containers. Not always aesthetically pleasing, but definitely discount friendly.
Aldi also saves money by not stocking any grocery bags. That’s right, if you want to leave the store with your items bagged and not loose in your cart, you’ll need to BYOB (bring your own bag).
Professional bargain hunters swear by Aldi. Even Walmart’s US CEO gives credit where credit is due, describing the German-born discount store as “fierce, “good,” and “clever.”
While some are taken aback by the quirky shopping experience, many veteran grocery goers are blown away by the efficiency of the Aldi model—there’s even an Aldi Facebook group with more than 50,000 members. The positives of shopping at Aldi include:
- You can’t beat the Aldi store price – During your inaugural Aldi venture you may do a double take. Check out some of these figures, all of which beat out competitor Walmart:
- 85 cents for a loaf of bread
- 46 cents for a pound of Gala apples
- $2.80 for a pepperoni pizza
- 79 cents for 12 oz of frozen vegetables
- 45 cents for a can of diced tomatoes
- $1.49 for a gallon of 2% milk
- Teamwork is encouraged – Another quirk of Aldi that’s either loved or hated by shoppers is that everyone must “rent” a cart. When you first enter the store, you have to insert a quarter into a cart to use it—you get your money back when you return the cart to its original location.
This practice saves the store plenty of money as they don’t have to hire any cart runners. The concept is also kind of nice—you’ll never have to worry about errant carts floating in the parking lot and potentially scraping your car. Plus, many shoppers who leave the store in good spirits will offer you their cart so you can skip the whole “insert quarter” step.
- More than just groceries – While Aldi’s focus is low priced grocery items, they also carry a few toiletries plus products like clocks and lamps, children’s books, pet food, pillows, and household necessities like laundry detergent.
- Find European flair – If you’re from Europe or simply want to transport yourself there, Aldi is the place to shop speciality items like pork schnitzel, cheese spaetzle, German sweet snack Knoppers, and German chocolate brand Schogetten.
- Simple layout – Shopping on a time crunch? The simple layout of Aldi stores makes it easy to race through with your grocery list and get out, most likely under budget, in a short period of time.
Just as there are many Aldi fans, there are also Aldi deniers, shoppers who simply cannot deal with the quirks of the European-born discount store.
Some of the drawbacks to shopping at Aldi include:
- Shorter store hours – While many Walmart locations are open 24 hours, Aldi stores are only open from 8am to 9pm, and some Aldi locations are open for a shorter period on Sundays.
- Stripped down shopping experience – Not everyone wants to dig around in their purse for a quarter whenever they go grocery shopping, and the idea of bagging your own groceries may sound like too much of a hassle for some, especially if you have cranky little ones in tow.
- Not everything is cheaper – While many of the Aldi prices are astoundingly low, they don’t beat out Walmart at every level. When you compare certain items, like diapers, bananas, trash bags, and green peppers, Walmart comes out on top.
- Limited options compared to other grocery stores – According to CNN, Aldi stocks about 1,400 items compared to 40,000 items found at traditional supermarkets. This is part of what makes the store’s layout so simple and allows them to keep their prices low, but if you have a long and varied grocery list, Aldi may not offer everything you need.
A Guide to Shopping at Walmart
It may seem that there’s a Walmart on every corner in the country. This assumption isn’t entirely far-fetched—there are currently over 5,000 Walmart stores in the U.S.
While Walmart stores are much larger than Aldi locations, offering everything from a full garden section to an electronics paradise, the two retailers are still neck and neck when it comes to competition for rock bottom grocery prices.
Walmart has name recognition going for it, plus the Walmart shopping experience is pretty standard—no quarters required.
Positives of shopping at Walmart include:
- One-stop shop – If the idea of getting your prescriptions, groceries, and party supplies for your friend’s upcoming baby shower all in one place sounds ideal, Walmart is the store for you. While Aldi grocery prices may be slightly lower across the board on most items, the convenience of doing all your necessary shopping at one store may ultimately save you time and money.
- You can become a Walmart Plus member – Walmart now offers Walmart Plus memberships (similar to an Amazon Prime setup). With Walmart Plus you can get free unlimited deliveries, savings on fuel at select gas stations, and access to scan-and-go technology, so you never have to wait in a checkout line again.
While Walmart has been around (a bit) longer than Aldi and boasts way more stores, customers who frequent Walmart don’t seem to be as fervent in their fandom as Aldi devotees.
Some drawbacks to shopping at Walmart compared to shopping at Aldi include:
- Aldi scores top marks in affordability – Even though when you break it down item by item, Walmart has better deals on some select purchases, Aldi ultimately offers more unbeatable prices. According to CNN, while Aldi barely ever needs to adjust its prices, Walmart is frequently lowering theirs to keep up with the German discount store.
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Deciding whether it’s more beneficial to spend your hard-earned dollars at Aldi or Walmart is entirely up to you. Depending on what kind of customer experience you’re looking for and how much you’re willing to spend on grocery items, either store may tick all or most of your boxes.
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