Why are Aldi prices so low? The secrets behind the savings

Aldi has been named one of the fastest-growing grocers in America. So how does the supermarket chain keep its prices cheaper than its competitors?

Aldi is often known as the store that makes shoppers leave a quarter deposit to get a cart. The practice encourages people to return their carts so Aldi can save money on the labor to collect them in the parking lot.

That’s just one of the many not-so-obvious efficiencies that drives Aldi’s prices to rock bottom.

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Each aisle at the store is stocked with savings shoppers can see courtesy of decisions designed to almost disappear.

"Our stores are about five aisles no matter where you go," said Karla Wattleton, a company spokeswoman.

Each store has a carefully curated collection of about 1,700 items. Only the most popular varieties, sizes, and flavors win in the fight for shelf space.

By comparison, a traditional grocery store has about 40,000 items, increasing instances of impulse buying and overhead that gets passed on in higher prices.

"You’re paying for those products whether you buy them or not," Wattleton said.

At Aldi, items are stocked in the same cases they’re shipped in. That means less labor cost to hand stack inventory like their competitors.

Digital price tags eliminate the cost of manually printing and peeling stickers.

Checkers are seated to maximize the economics of ergonomics.

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In the dairy section, shelves are slanted with rollers so replacement stock slides forward for free.

And there’s no overhead music. People shop to the sound of money savings.

"It’s a small change but a very strategic one because we don’t have to pay licensing fees," Wattleton said.

There are plenty of popular national brands, but Aldi builds its business around making private labels their primary focus. The products look an awful lot like the name brand in a generic store brand box.

"I can’t officially tell you that but what I can tell you is at Aldi when it comes to our exclusive brands, it meets or exceeds the national brand quality," Wattleton said.

The folks at Aldi are so confident shoppers will love their private label products, they offer a twice-as-nice guarantee.

People can bring an item back and Aldi will refund the money and replace the item with something different.

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Other things that are clear are the oversized and repetitive bar codes on those boxes. They’re designed to save people money by increasing efficiency at checkout.

"The first time it goes across the register, it’s gonna scan," Wattleton said.

FOX 4 did a few spot price checks, comparing only national brand prices for fairness.

A bag of Taylor Farms’ chopped salad was $2.99 at Aldi compared to $5.49 at other stores. A tub of Blue Bell ice cream was $7.98 compared to $9.49 and a box of Welch’s fruit snacks was $8.49 compared to $10.49.

The store is so efficient, it even saves room for what is likely the most popular aisle – the Aldi Finds aisle.

It’s a regularly rotating roundup of the unexpected in a store where efficiency gets an A+.