In a move the company said would “streamline” its communications with shoppers, Lidl this week said that it is slowing the frequency of its “Surprises” themed general merchandise offers from twice weekly to once a week.
The move coincides with a change that will begin all of Lidl’s weekly ad specials on Wednesdays instead of Thursdays. Previously, three to four Lidl’s “Surprises” deals launched on Sundays and Thursdays. This Wednesday, Aug. 22, eight new themed specials begin.
The general merchandise change mirrors a similar adjustment to the promotion pace Lidl made to its fresh foods late last year, and indicates the chain is continuing to fine-tune its European-bred model—where it tends to lure shoppers to stores multiple times a week—to more typical American shopping patterns, said Bill Bishop, chief architect for Barrington, Ill.-based Brick Meets Click.
“My guess is they are realizing that changing ad specials two times weekly was more trouble than it was worth,” Bishop told WGB in an interview.
Moving ad start dates to Wednesdays also aligns Lidl to a similar schedule as its rival Aldi, which begins ads—including in-and-out general merchandise specials it calls “Aldi Finds”—on Wednesdays.
Both chains advertise their general merchandise promotions as “while supplies last,” and help to draw customers with a “treasure hunt” vibe. Some Lidl stores have been observed to have what appear to be leftover merchandise from such promotions still on shelves.
“One of the things we have observed is that Aldi is getting very good at managing its merchandising cycle so that the items they get in are generally out in two weeks,” Bishop said. “They work really hard to get the timing right.”
A simpler schedule of launches could also aid efficiency and could be seen as preparation for the smaller store box Lidl is said to be developing for the future, although a spokesman for the company did not mention these as considerations when asked by WGB to comment on their strategic rationale. “The change is part of our continuing work to streamline our offers and communications for our customers,” spokesman Will Harwood said.
In a separate change to its promotional strategies, Lidl is now advertising special pricing on several items every week for customers that download the company’s mobile application. This, Bishop said, will help to build a customer base the company can communicate with shoppers on a one-to-one basis.
Lidl, a division of the Germany-based Schwarz Group with U.S. headquarters in Arlington, Va., opened its first U.S. stores last June, and this week is scheduled to open its 54th store, in Indian Trail, N.C. The company also announced it would open additional stores in Bowie, Md., on Sept. 12 and Dumfries, Va., on Sept. 26.