If you don’t carry, make sure you at least have a quarter if you’re going shopping at
You’ll need a quarter if you want a shopping cart for your goods. But don’t worry, you’ll get it back when you return the cart to the corral.
Aldi says not having staff collect shopping carts, as well as having customers bag their own groceries helps its stores save money and pass savings on to customers.
The German grocer has stores in 19 countries and nearly 2,340 stores in 39 states in the U.S.
In August, Aldi said itroughly 400 Winn-Dixie and Harveys Supermarket stores throughout the Southeast. The deal, which is expected to close in 2024, will include converting some stores to Aldi chains.
Aldi CEO Jason Hart said at the time that the company is planning to add 120 new stores nationwide this year, which will bring its total to more than 2,400 Aldi locations across the country.
Recently, the grocer also announced it would be reducing prices on 70 holiday classics for Thanksgiving by up to 50%. That’s on top of what the grocer calls its “Aldi every day low prices,” highlighted inwhere a woman keeps asking a sales associate when the sale will end, to which the Aldi associate replies “it’s not a sale, we just have really low prices.”
The woman in the ad doesn’t immediately get it. You might not either and as the company expands, you might encounter an Aldi location. Here are some things you should know.
Shoppers save a lot at Aldi
Yvonne Freeman of Le Roy, New York had been to an Aldi occasionally over the years, but started going more regularly in the spring to save money.
Freeman left a lucrative job as a respiratory therapist in March after her mom died and she began caring for her father, who moved in with her husband and two teens.
Costco gets tough:
The family needed to re-adjust their budget living on one income, Freeman said. A friend who is from Italy told Freeman that many of the brands she buys at Aldi are European brands, which Freeman said made her feel more confident about shopping at the store.
“I go to Aldi first to get my weekly groceries,” said Freeman. If there’s anything left on her list, she’ll go to another store. But she’s rarely had to do that, Freeman said. And she has priced items and says she has saved 50% to 60% weekly by shopping at Aldi.
On a recent day, Freeman had an $85 dollar grocery budget for her family of five. She made it out of the store spending $83.46, including meats such as pork, chicken and bulk sausage. That was enough food to make six meals for her family and a lasagna for a charitable organization that provides a lasagna to a neighbor in need.
Ang McGriff of Nashville, Tennessee, has been shopping at Aldi for more than 20 years. She started out of necessity as a single mother, but now shops out of choice. McGriff is a big Aldi cheerleader who helps moderate a Facebook group of fans dedicated to the store’s “Aisle of Shame,” or non-grocery deal aisle, and has a separate group of her own where she shares her Aldi finds.
Here’s some tips to help make your shopping trip easier:
How to use the shopping carts
The shopping carts are usually right before you walk in the door. They are connected to each other and the way to unlock one is to put a quarter in the slot and pull out the little covered chain. When you’re done using your cart, take it back to the corral, connect the chain back to your cart and a quarter will come out. (It may not be your same quarter if you went through the cashier’s line and not the self checkout. The cashier will load your groceries in the last person’s cart and yours will be used for the next shopper.)
Bring reusable bags and bag your own groceries
Cashiers do not bag your groceries at Aldi. If you go through a line with a cashier, your items will be placed in another cart after getting rung up and then your cart will be used for the next person. If you use the self checkout kiosks, you can bag while you go. There is also an area near the cash registers, towards the door, where you can stop and bag your groceries. If you forget your reusable bags, you’ll have to pay for a paper bag or you can buy a reusable Aldi bag.
Freeman said since she is able-bodied and doesn’t like to feel rushed, she takes her full cart out to the car and unloads directly into it.
What’s the “Aisle of Shame” or Aldi Finds aisle?
This aisle has its own Facebook fan groups, where people will post about their finds and deals. These products can be anything from a dog sweater to a pot you can buy at a great price. The items are limited in quantity, so they go fast.
It’s everything you never knew you needed – until you go into that aisle.
Since Freeman is usually trying to stay within her weekly grocery-store budget, she usually purposely avoids the Aldi Finds aisle.
Her 19-year-old is starting to think about getting her own apartment, so Freeman has started “picking up little items for her sure that will be good for for a starter apartment.”
But Freeman has still succumbed to the lure of deals in the aisle, including $10 cooling mats for her dogs, which the family used while camping, $40 for cushion covers to refresh her living room furniture and some matching pajamas for herself and her daughter.
She did also buy some sunglasses for her dog once.
“There were some sunglasses for dogs over the summer and of course the dog won’t wear them but it was cute and it was six bucks, so you know not huge damage,” she said.
McGriff, an office manager, does her weekly grocery shopping at Aldi, but loves the deals in the middle aisle. While others will plan ahead and look at the weekly ad to plan their deals, McGriff said she likes the element of surprise when she’s at the store. In particular, she loves the Aldi clothes and shoes.
Things go quickly, though, McGriff said. Your local store may run out within 20 minutes.
“It’s like a little Black Friday every week,” she said. McGriff said a tip is to look through the box for your particular size since the boxes will usually have a mix of sizes in the same container.
What’s the difference between name brand and Aldi house brand items?
Freeman said she’s noticed very little difference in quality between most name-brand items versus Aldi’s in-house brand. Sometimes it just comes down to your taste preferences. Her husband, for instance, doesn’t like the Aldi brand mayonnaise while others love it.
Freeman’s kids, ages 13 and 19, prefer the Aldi brand refrigerated cinnamon buns to Pillsbury’s.
“I like them better because they’re $1 cheaper,” she said.
Fees on the rise:
Give things a try, Freeman recommends. For instance, you can buy a can of Aldi green beans for just 64 cents – a cheap way to see if your family likes it, she said.
Does Aldi sell alcohol?
Aldi says it sells beer and wine in most of its stores, but some local laws do not allow alcohol sales.
McGriff said her favorite is Aldi brand’s Bailey’s Irish Cream knockoff Connellys.
Can you use coupons at Aldi?
No. Aldi says Aldi-exclusive items make up about 90% of its product selection and prices are lower than name brands. Aldi also says it negotiates the cheapest price for name-brand items the stores carry, so they are unable to accept manufacturer’s coupons.
Are prices the same at all Aldi stores?
In its frequently asked questions, Aldi said prices can vary from store to store, “but rest assured we strive to offer the lowest prices in town.”
Does Aldi allow returns?
No, but Aldi has a “Twice As Nice Guarantee,” which will refund your money and replace it with a receipt. The policy does not apply to non-food items, Aldi finds, or alcohol.
Betty Lin-Fisher is a consumer reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at blinfisher@USATODAY.com or follow her on X, Facebook or Instagram @blinfisher.
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