The Royal Borough gets a brand new Lidl.

Todays the day that lots of Maidenhead folk have ben waiting for: The Grand Opening of Lidl! 

I'll start with an interesting fact for you: According to a poll by Which? magazine, Lidl is the UKs 4th most popular supermarket (after Aldi, Waitrose and M and S). I was quite interested to see what all the hype was about so accompanied by a toddler who insisted on wearing her sunglasses, even though it wasn't sunny, I popped down today on their opening day.

For some of you it may come as a surprise that there has been such eager anticipation from people of all demographics for what’s regarded as a budget supermarket. Particularly when you consider that in Maidenhead the average house price is £369,000 compared to the national average of £172,000. And that’s not taking into account the surrounding areas that will be in the catchment area for the new supermarket: Bray has an average house price of £499,302, Holyport is £421,081 and Cookham is £475,783.

So what’s happening? I think one of the biggest cultural shifts from a few years ago is that these days it’s not only clever to be price savvy, its now much more culturally acceptable to talk about it too. Especially when it comes to the weekly grocery shop. Thanks to the likes of TV programmes like Martin’s Moneysavers and Save with Jamie Oliver, we’re all wising up to the tricks some of the big supermarkets use to make us overspend on our weekly shop. Perhaps the high house prices locally are also pushing a lot of us that weren’t born into a millionaire’s lifestyle into paying higher mortgage and rent than we can really afford. Either way, regardless of your family income or disposable income, it’s liberating to think that you’ve saved money on the essentials and have more left to spend on whatever you want. Lidl seems to offer an opportunity to do just that.

Aside from the bigger trends, there is also a great opportunity for a new supermarket to launch in Maidenhead. We have one of the most inconvenient town supermarkets I’ve ever encountered (driving into a multistory car park, up three levels, to go and get a ticket, put it in the car and then take a trolley down three levels) which means that many people choose to make the 20-minute drive to Slough or choose to shop online instead.

So how did I get on?

My first impression of the new Lidl store was that I was surprised by the lack of parking. 

Maidenhead is desperate for a supermarket with lots of parking, but unfortunately Lidl doesn’t have a huge amount of spaces on the same side as the store. We parked over by Homebase and walked over, which was fine for today, but I need to find out if I can bring a fully loaded trolley all the way over there or not?! I don’t fancy finding out that the wheels lock when you get too far away from the store with a jam packed trolley and a toddler in tow, just as I’m trying to cross the road!

Outside today there was a BBQ, free face painting, balloons for the little ones and some snacks and nibbles- a friendly party atmosphere. We attempted sitting down for face painting but the little lady was having none of it, so balloon in hand we went in.

Waaay too cool for face painting, but a balloon was OK. 
Its always a little strange stepping into a new supermarket as you’re not sure where things are, and Lidl range things in a different order to most supermarkets. Instead of fruit and veg at the front there was chocolate, biscuits and cereal. (Cue lots of pointing and ‘Mummy, mmmm’ from the little one!)

From afar these look like the brands you see in other supermarkets, on closer inspection they're different!
But there are some familiar brands on sale too
There is a well stocked bakery section which wouldn’t look out of place in any other local supermarket. 
Samples on offer today. Hope this continues after opening day too!
Lots of freshly baked bread. Shame I'm gluten free!

As you progress into the store though, you do notice that things are displayed a little differently, the boxes are piled high, and it helps to know your prices that you usually pay so can you can spot a good bargain. I was pleased to see blueberries for 89p and 'easy peeler' clementines for £1.19. That’s about half the price of what I would usually pay in Tesco.

It took me a while to find what I was looking for in the fresh produce section
Some of the aisles are stacked really high which takes bit of getting used to
The meat section looked really interesting. I was kicking myself for already having booked my online delivery as you could definitely fill the freezer and plan a good BBQ here. I’d be interested to see how it all cooks and tastes.

By the second aisle it was getting a little hectic- lots of people browsing. There is a range of hard goods available from garden hoses to vacuum cleaners, so beware if you’re an impulse shopper as you may come away with more than you were expecting.

Really busy with people browsing
Remember to bring your own bags, or buy some from Lidl
Staff were helpful at the checkout, but remember they don't take credit cards!

So how would I rate it overall?

Its pretty busy down there today, but on the plus side, there are also lots of staff to hand helping you checkout, offering samples, and even cleaning the floor.

I follow a dairy free diet and there weren’t any dairy alternatives like almond or soya milk on offer, so I would always need to do a second shop. It felt a bit funny that they don't accept credit cards, but thankfully I had my debit card on me so I didn't cause too much of a scene or delay at the checkout! 

Having said that though, I would definitely head back when I can figure out the quietest times and have a good mooch. I think that by shopping there for fruit, vegetables and meat I could significantly reduce the cost of my weekly shop without a noticeable drop in quality.

I may have just set myself a challenge. Watch this space.

What about you? Are you excited that Lidl has come to town? Feel free to leave a comment below, I'd love to hear what other people in Maidenhead think.

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