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What is Lidl? Why this discount grocery store is giving Aldi a run for its money

Here's what you need to know about the other German grocer opening stores across the U.S.
Exterior of a Lidl store
The exterior of a Lidl store in the U.S.Lidl US
/ Source: TODAY

Many people have heard of Aldi, but there's another discount grocery store from Germany that's been popping up in several states. It's called Lidl. But in the age of online food shopping, is Lidl still worth checking out? If you value prices that compete with Walmart's and an organic selection of produce and snacks that rivals Trader Joe's, then the answer is "yes."

Lidl has far fewer locations in the U.S. than Aldi (100 versus nearly 2,000, respectively), but it offers competitive prices and a wide variety of goods from its own brand. Here are 10 things you should know before heading out to Lidl.

1. The name rhymes with needle, not fiddle

It's OK if you've been calling it "lidd-el." Many people do! But the correct pronunciation is "lee-del." What does Lidl mean? The name comes from the founder of Lidl's business partner whose last name was Lidl.

2. Lidl stores are a lot bigger than Aldi stores

Economic Warning Signs Increase
NORTHWICH, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 03: An Aldi discount supermarket on 3 July, 2008 in Northwich, England . Whilst most of the UK's leading supermarkets and grocery stores are battling hard for their market share, discount supermarkets Aldi and Lidl are seeing an increase in profits as middle class consumers fighting the credit crunch search out bargains as reported by TNS Worldpanel. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Yes, they're both German discount grocery stores with more than 11,000 locations worldwide. But even without signage, you'll quickly be able to tell the difference between an Aldi and a Lidl. For starters, Lidl stores are bigger. They range in size from 14,000-21,000 square feet, whereas Aldi stores average 10,000 square feet. They also stock about 3,500 products at any given time, which is more than twice as many products as Aldi's 1,400.

3. Lidl has some big fans

In 2018, Food & Wine Magazine called Lidl "like Trader Joe's, but better." The reasoning? Trader Joe's products certainly have a cult-like following, but Lidl stores offer similar products, sometimes at even cheaper prices — plus there's a much wider variety of produce and baked goods.

4. Freshly baked bread is key

Lidl fans love to hate the tempting bakeries at the entrance of Lidl stores.
Lidl US

Lidl doesn't have greeters like Walmart. Instead, its in-store bakeries, which are always in the front of any store, welcome shoppers with enticing aromas. The bakery puts out fresh bread, pastries and desserts throughout the day.

5. Variety is the spice of life

Lidl interior
The interior of a Lidl store in Hagerstown, MarylandLidl US / Lidl US

Around 80% of what Lidl carries comes from its own private label, Preferred Selection. As an international grocery store, they're able to bring in lots of products from other countries. Think pasta from Italy, chocolate from Germany and cured meats from Spain. Of course, Lidl also carries familiar brands like Jif, Coca-Cola, SeaPak and So Delicious. But those supplies will vary depending on what's available.

In addition to food, Lidl has a rotating selection of everything from sewing machines to outdoor furniture, and clothing to footwear. Specials appear on Wednesdays and are offered for a limited time. Can't come in on Wednesdays? Lidl offers home delivery via Shipt or Boxed at more than 80 of its stores.

6. They have a great wine selection

Lidl's wine department has won more than 200 industry awards. Lidl credits its in-house "Master of Wine" who has tasted more than 10,000 wines to curate the available selection in stores. Most Lidl stores offer about 80 wines at any given time.

7. All flowers come with a freshness guarantee

Lidl's fresh flower section, also located at the entrance of stores, is replenished daily. All of Lidl's flowers come with a five-day freshness guarantee and its roses and lilies come with a seven-day guarantee. If your flowers don't last that long, simply bring back the receipt for a refund.

8. Cheaper than Amazon, more costly than Walmart

Lidl produce section
Lidl stores have a pretty robust produce section including organic fruits and vegetables.Kaia Lola / Lidl US

As one of the cheapest grocery stores in the U.S., Lidl ranked 9th in a 2019 study of more than 50 grocery store chains. It came in just after Walmart Neighborhood Market and before Amazon. Another study conducted by the University of North Carolina found that retailers in the "immediate vicinity" of a Lidl store responded to a new opening near them with price drops of as much as 55% on staple products.

In 2019, Lidl was ranked as the third best supermarket by Food & Wine, which looked at overall shopper experience. (Wegmans and Central Market took home the top two spots.)

9. The best deals are on the weekends

While Lidl's new deals and weekly specials drop on Wednesdays, its "super deals" come out on Saturdays and Sundays. The best way to learn about those deals is to download the myLidl app or check out the store's website. Recent super deals have included $3 for smoked salmon, $8 micro-fiber bathrobes and patio umbrellas for $7.

10. There are Lidl stores in nine states

Lidl in Lacey, New Jersey
The grand opening of the Lidl store in Lacey, New JerseyDavid Keith / Lidl US

Due to COVID-19, Lidl opted not to host a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Suwannee, Georgia, at the opening of its 100th U.S. store in May. But the pandemic hasn't stopped Lidl from conducting business as usual otherwise. Lidl's stores are primarily scattered up and down the East Coast in nine states, from Georgia to New Jersey. The company hasn't divulged when it will start opening new locations, but it recently started expanding healthcare benefits to all employees, including part-time workers.