On Saturday, 18th July 2015, I accidentally ended up at Heckyfest festival in Kirklees. It was a nice festival and I really enjoyed it. During the festival, I had to go to the toilet so I went to Lidl, which was across the road from the park where the festival was organised. As I don’t like just using facilities for free (even though I know this is possible, at least in Lidl) I entered the supermarket to buy a juice too. I ended up buying a pack of nectarines and a whole pack of tropical juices, both quite handy for an outdoor festival and both for as little as 1.90 GBP. However, Lidl’s prices or the festival are not the reason to write this post.
Since I am doing research on the UK’s supermarket industry, I am aware that customers in the UK refrain from shopping in Lidl because shopping there is in large part considered as a “social suicide” (Lowery, 2014, p. 3). In other words, in a society where there are still major differences among classes (even though the class system does not officially exist), shopping in Lidl is a sign that you are a poor worker, or a person who claims benefits and, as such, you clearly cannot afford to shop elsewhere.
During my accidental visit to Lidl, the first thing I spotted when I took my place in the queue for checkout, is that many customers packed the food they purchased in Lidl in their life bags from Sainsbury’s or Tesco and there was a feeling of shame on faces of many people I saw in the supermarket. Many just seemed so uncomfortable and ashamed.
I do not have a problem with Lidl really. I have never been a regular customer there because they are always a bit out of my way, i.e. now when I live in Leeds, as well as when I lived in Zagreb. I also never liked the fact they do not sell local products enough, but I read that has changed recently. However, I did have had a chance to shop in Lidl every time I was in Vienna due to massive presence of the company in Austria. Yet, I never noticed what I saw in Kirklees on Saturday, i.e. hiding, and a sense of shame for shopping there.
While I understand it is not easy to deal with prejudices and labels, I still object to this behaviour. The change can never happen if we do not stand up for ourselves and initiate change. Would women have the rights they have now if brave feminists refrained from standing up against the injustice? Would minorities have the same rights as they do now had there been no activism to fight for equality? No. Therefore, customers who shop in Lidl need to stop hiding where they shop and proudly say they shop where they do because it is a matter of a personal choice. Even if some people who shop there are poor, since when being poor became a terrible thing? They shopped in a cheaper place to budget, i.e. they did not go to other supermarket to knick something, no?
I did not really saw a problem in Lidl on Saturday. The shop was clean, members of staff were smiling to everyone who passed by, the food looked ok, and the section with vegetables and fruit looked quite impressive. It was full of stock, everything looked fresh, and the prices were fantastic. I also happen to know that Lidl was awarded for their bakery, as well as for the general balance between quality and the price of their products (Topić & Tench, 2015).
It is hardly possible to shop only in Lidl since the variety of products is much smaller than in other British supermarkets. However, I do not think it was a social suicide to purchase a pack of nectarines for 69p. It seems more like a budget suicide not to purchase on these prices and at least occasionally stop by to Lidl to check out prices, if you have Lidl in the area.
Thank you for reading.
Lowery, J. (2014). Lidl: Surprisingly high returns for a surprisingly low investment. Warc UK (p. 2-20). Retrieved 27 March 2015 from:
Topić, M. & Tench, R. (2015). Trading sincerely or selling out? Exploration of the use of Corporate Social Responsibility in Lidl’s Advertising & Communication Campaigns in Croatia and the UK (under review)