New Lidl store planned for Edinburgh's Craigleith Retail Park
Final proof of discount store's seal of approval from middle-class shoppers?
THEY used to be seen as “pile them high, sell them cheap” supermarkets catering for people who could not afford to shop anywhere else.
But Lidl’s stores have evolved since the first UK one opened in 1994 and gradually they attracted a wider clientele with an eye for a bargain.
Now the discount chain is to open a new supermarket close to Sainsbury’s at Craigleith - final proof, perhaps, that the Lidl has won a seal of approval from middle-class shoppers.
The company has exchanged contracts with Nuveen Real Estate, owners of Craigleith Retail Park, to lease a vacant unit formerly occupied by Toys R Us.
And Nuveen have submitted a planning application for the new store which Lidl say will create up to 40 new jobs.
Inverleith Tory councillor Max Mitchell said: “If people think Lidl is trying to move upmarket, then maybe coming to Craigleith is the ultimate place.”
News of the discount chain's planned new supermarket comes just ahead of Poundland opening its new store in Princes Street on Saturday.
Five years ago, Lidl launched a so-called “claret offensive”, investing £12 million in the promotion of French wines in a bid to win the custom of affluent shoppers.
In 2015, research found affluent families considered to be middle class or upper middle class accounted for almost one in three shoppers at Lidl and rival discount operator Aldi. That compared with just one in 10 just two years earlier.
But earlier this year there were reports of “middle class outrage” when Waitrose sold three of its English stores to Lidl. Nearby residents feared house prices could be affected.
Research by Lloyds Bank last year found the “Waitrose effect” added 12 per cent to the value of the average home near a branch of the upmarket store - but budget supermarkets like Lidl increased property values by 15 per cent.
Independent Inverleith councillor Gavin Barrie said competition was healthy. “To have more than one decent-sized food store on that site will hopefully sharpen them both to the benefit of the public.”
He said he lived in a middle-class neighbourhood but did not hesitate to shop at a “bargain” store.
”I’ve got an Aldi at the bottom of my street and lots of my neighbours and I regularly shop there because we discover what’s good to buy there and whether you do your weekly shop or just pick and choose popular items, why would you drive past it and go to somewhere more expensive?”