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MARKETANALYST.US / ECONOMY & WORK

Aldi’s ‘Aisle of Shame’ Becomes Treasure Trove for Savvy Shoppers; How to Find the Best Deals

Dedicated shoppers are finding unbeatable deals and weekly adventures, fueling Aldi's strategic expansion and profitability.
PUBLISHED APR 22, 2024
Cover Image Source: Shoppers enter a branch of the budget supermarket retailer Aldi | Getty Images | Photo by Matt Cardy
Cover Image Source: Shoppers enter a branch of the budget supermarket retailer Aldi | Getty Images | Photo by Matt Cardy

Caitlyn Pratt, a dedicated Aldi shopper, doesn't let state lines stop her from getting her favorite deals. She drives 45 minutes from Heavener, Oklahoma to the nearest Aldi in Arkansas multiple times every month. For Pratt, it's about staying within budget, avoiding Walmart, and enjoying a thrilling treasure hunt in what Aldi fans affectionately call the "Aisle of shame," per CNN.

An Aldi supermarket | Getty Images | Photo by Brandon Bell
An Aldi supermarket | Getty Images | Photo by Brandon Bell

Aldi, a German discount grocer, has been a staple in the US since 1976, boasting over 2,000 stores nationwide and 12,000 globally. At the heart of every Aldi store lies the "Aldi Finds" aisle—a rotating selection of specialty items at bargain prices. Dubbed the "aisle of shame" by enthusiasts, it's a treasure trove for savvy shoppers like Pratt. "Driving the distance is worth it for me," Pratt explained. "I love snagging great deals and discovering unique finds at Aldi."



The Wednesday rush sees devoted Aldi fans flocking to the store, eager to score the latest gems from the "Aisle of Shame." With three million members, the Aldi Aisle of Shame Facebook page buzzes with excitement as shoppers share their hauls. "It's like a weekly adventure," Pratt shared. "I never know what I'll find, but it's always exciting." Despite the seemingly random assortment of products, Aldi carefully curates the aisle of shame to meet customers' desires. From garden hammocks to pet sweaters, the items cater to a variety of needs and preferences. "Aldi's low prices and unique offerings keep me coming back," Pratt admitted. "It's addictive!" "When you go into a Walmart and you're looking for a can of green beans, you have 18 different options. In Aldi, there's one, and maybe one other. I can get in and out and get exactly what I need without spending forever in there," Pratt explained.

Aldi branding seen in an Aldi supermarket | Getty Images | Photo by Matthew Horwood
Aldi branding seen in an Aldi supermarket | Getty Images | Photo by Matthew Horwood

Once Pratt checks off her grocery list, she ventures into the middle aisle to snag a bargain or two on various items. Aldi Finds offers diverse products, from shovels and plastic garden gnomes to patio rugs, deck furniture, candles, bedding sets, and even pet beds and clothing at remarkably low prices. Some items like sneakers serve as substitutes for name brands, priced at just $13 a pair. The assortment refreshes weekly, typically on Wednesdays, drawing praise from fans for transforming an average grocery trip into an adventure.

Pratt humorously revealed that her region dubs the aisle as the "aisle of sh*t," reflecting the abundance of "unnecessary things" that she finds irresistible. Despite her initial grocery intentions, Pratt often ends up splurging around $150 at Aldi, with half of her purchases being non-grocery items. Her hauls include outdoor rugs, patio sets, planters, lanterns, cookware, pillows, and pet clothing, making her home a testament to Aldi's allure. Aldi attributes the success of its aisle of shame to a dedicated team of trend experts and buyers who identify rising product trends and source top-quality products at the lowest possible prices.



Britney Henderson, another Aldi enthusiast, recently scored a pair of hanging bamboo pendant lamps for $9 each, promptly sharing her find on the Aisle of Shame Facebook group. Like Pratt, Henderson frequents Aldi two to three times a month, prioritizing the store's quality and prices over other discount supermarkets, including Walmart. Henderson keeps a close eye on the Aisle of Shame Facebook page, ensuring she doesn't miss out on coveted items. However, staying within budget can be challenging amidst the temptation. "I'm almost embarrassed by it," Henderson admitted.

A budget supermarket Aldi | Getty Images | Photo by Matt Cardy
A budget supermarket Aldi | Getty Images | Photo by Matt Cardy

With over 2,300 stores already established nationwide, Aldi aims to add another 800 by 2028, responding to customer demand for accessibility and affordability. While Aldi has not disclosed its annual sales figures, Clear suggests that 10% to 15% of sales, along with “several multiples of that” contribute to profit margins just from the aisle of shame purchases. Clear explains the rationale behind the profitability of the aisle by contrasting it with traditional grocery sections. He notes that while areas like frozen and fresh produce yield lower margins, they attract customers due to Aldi's competitive pricing on staple items like milk and eggs. However, these low-margin products alone do not drive substantial profits for the store.

In contrast, Aldi Finds and the retailer's private label grocery offerings, which comprise the majority of items, prove to be more lucrative. Clear emphasizes that products in the aisle of shame, such as plastics and textiles sourced overseas, serve as profit-boosting additions to Aldi's overall sales strategy.

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