Not all of France shops at Farmers' markets or at the fishmonger. Far from it. Discount shopping is not an American habit alone. All over Europe are a couple of deep discount grocery chains that over the years, with assertive pricing and permanent advertising, carved out a very lucrative market share for themselves.
If I'd guess, Aldi is a bit larger than Lidl, but am not sure. in France alone Lidl operates over 1000 stores. Globally, Lidl is the #4 retailer by revenue.
Way back, shopping at Aldi had the aura of welfare around it. I did shop at one in Austria during my school years, it always felt depressing. But very affordable for a quick lunch or chocolates to get me through the afternoon classes. Today, with Lidl and other discounters bullying into the market, all of them had to spruce it up a little in style and selection, in comparison to your Safeway or Albertson's, the prices are rock bottom. If you are willing to compromise.
A limited selection of mainly no name brands to begin with. Though many of the products are made by reputable industry leaders, they too have to watch how to make money for their shareholders and may not use the same quality ingredients that would go into their own, branded products.
Lidl, in comparison to Aldi, did step it up with nationally recognized brands. And that is where the value comes in if you want to stick to names. My weekly Ritter stash is a good example. Not all their flavors are stocked, but two of my faves are there at .99, which is about half of what I see it at other retailers.
One major profit center for these discounters are non food items. Much harder to compare for the average shopper, they have an aisle of products, that are not typical impulse buys, the price though makes it an instant gratification situation. We have yet to see something we really need, but if you are weak around want items, you are their favorite customer. 4 in 1 coffee machine for 69.99? Go ahead, it's a bargain.
Against their reputation (similar to the unjustified hate Wal Mart gets), staff does get treated fine and store managers to get a share of profits, which in some cases makes it a very desirable job. Work hard, earn hard.
What baffled me a little, was that while I was taking images in a 300m2 store with only 3 aisles, I was questioned twice by two different stop loss detectives. If they can afford to employ two geeks acting all important, their margins have to be healthy. They each asked the store manager, who in very clear terms told them to look for bigger fish than some stupid Blogger.....
STARK, BUT EFFECTIVE
SCORED ON RITTER CHOCOLATES
IT WORKS, PEOPLE SHOP
SOME SHOP A LOT
COULD BE A BARGAIN