Bare Shelves in ALDI in Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, Prospect Heights Concern Loyal Customers

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ALDI store entrance in the northwest suburbs of Chicago
ALDI store entrance in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

Recently there have been areas of bare shelves in general food products, produce, refrigerator sections, and the freezer sections at ALDI stores in the northwest suburbs. For example, no frozen french fries bags were available simultaneously at stores in Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and Prospect Heights.

Areas of bare shelves have been reported at Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and Prospect Heights in August 2023. Stores in other suburbs and the City of Chicago have also been affected.

A source at ALDI told CARDINAL NEWS that there was a computer glitch that occurred in a new computer system that caused a disruption of truck shipping within the ALDI distribution system.

ALDI headquarters in the United States is located in Batavia, Illinois. ALDI operates more than 2,200 stores across 36 states with over 52,000 employees, according to the website (information retrieved Aug. 29, 2023). As of August 29, 2023, there are no ALDI stores in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington or Wyoming.

In August 2023, ALDI announced the acquisition of Winn-Dixie and Harveys Supermarket stores in the southeast United States, and in January 2023 announced the opening of a Regional Distribution Center in Loxley, Alabama.

The 564,000-square-foot facility in Loxley is equipped to service stores across Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and the Florida Panhandle. In total, the 100 stores that will be supported by the Loxley facility represent an opportunity to reach more than 8 million customers, according to ALDI.

Internationally, there is an ALDI SOUTH (ALDI SÜD) and an ALDI North (ALDI Nord) with family ties among the founders. However, the two groups are legally and economically separated. ALDI in the United States operates under ALDI SOUTH, and Trader Joe’s, which has 569 stores and over 50,000 employees in the United States, operates under the parent company of ALDI North.

According to the official ALDI website (information retrieved Aug. 29, 2023), two states are tied at 210 with the most ALDI stores: Illinois and Florida. According to the ALDI South Group website, there are 2,229 ALDI stores in the United States. International operations are operated under ALDI SÜD KG in Austria.

ALDI has a strong fan base enjoying low prices and the ALDI brands, but customers have been concerned about seeing the bare shelves and employees that seem stretched thin with stocking duties and cash register assignments depending on customer traffic. Employees are assigned double-duty, and may be stocking shelves one minute, and running a cash register the next. Arguably, the employees at ALDI are the hardest working grocery workers among all grocery business stores in the area, and customers appear to be fans of their local ALDI employees because the employees are energetic, responsive and helpful.

Self-checkout lanes appeared in 2023 at the Palatine ALDI store on Dundee Road near Rand Road, and at the Arlington Heights ALDI store on Golf Road. Self-checkout is expected to appear at the Prospect Heights store at Rand Road and Thomas Street in 2024. The Prospect Heights store was recently re-modeled, and celebrated a re-opening on Thursday, July 18, 2019.

Along with the bare shelves, the stores seemed a little more disheveled in August 2023, but hopefully it just a sign of growing pains for ALDI. The touch screens at self-checkout at two ALDI stores (Arlington Heights and Palatine) don’t seem to be maintained for cleanliness as well as self-checkout screens at Jewel-Osco and Mariano’s (owned by Kroger), but this could probably be resolved by continuing the self-service style at ALDI with a self-supply of touch screen disinfecting wipes near self-checkout.

In July 2023, ALDI released the 2023 ALDI Fan Favorites by Category …

TikTok Made Me Buy It: Friendly Farms Cottage Cheese

Rookie of the Year: Friendly Farms Low Sugar Greek Yogurt

Ready When You Are: Mama Cozzi’s Pizza Kitchen Take and Bake Deli Pizza

Snacks For Everyone: Happy Farms String Cheese

Cream Of the Crop: Avocados

On The Lighter Side: Simply Nature Avocado Oil

Protein Pick: Kirkwood Fresh Chicken

What A Deal: Clancy’s Kettle Chips

Great Catch: Fresh Atlantic Salmon with Mediterranean Herb

Raise A Glass: Belletti Sparkling Moscato Rose

Choose Your Cheese: Emporium Selection Fresh Mozzarella

Sweet Tooth Satisfaction: Specially Selected Ice Cream

Sauce on the Side: Specially Selected Vinaigrette Dressings

According to ALDI, TikTok Trends are driving Aisle Visits. Friendly Farms Cottage Cheese and Low Sugar Greek yogurt both took the No. 1 spot in their respective categories after the cottage cheese trend and yogurt cluster trend swept #FoodTok. Cottage cheese sales at ALDI spiked more than 14% during this protein powerhouse’s viral TikTok run.

Dairy was this year’s dark horse, taking the top spot in five of 13 categories, including Happy Farms String Cheese, which was the highest voted item in the entire survey.

Quick meal solutions continue to reign supreme, as long-time winner Mama Cozzi’s Pizza Kitchen Take-and-Bake Deli Pizza was voted as third most popular overall product in the survey, and was a 5-peat Fan Favorite category winner every year since the ALDI survey launched in 2019.

Avocados had a major comeback this year as a double winner, reclaiming their 2020 ranking as the top produce pick, according to ALDI. Avocado oil also won in the ‘Lighter Side’ category.

According to AXIOS with data from Chain Store Guide, ALDI was not among the top 10 grocers by market share in 2022 in the United States. Walmart (25.2%), Costco (7.1%) and Kroger (5.6%) were among the top three in 2022. Target (3.5%) and Whole Foods (1.8%) were also in the top ten. According to The Packer, the profile is much different in Chicagoland. Jewel/Osco continues to dominate the retail sector in the Chicago area with a 38.74% market share, according to the Shelby Report. Other chains in the top five in Chicagoland are Meijer (9.47%), Wal-Mart (8.74%), Mariano’s (7.53%) and Whole Foods Market (7.52%).

According to Jewel-Osco on (published their Linkedin profile), Jewel-Osco employs approximately 265,000 people in the United States. According to ALDI (on retrieved Aug. 29, 2023), ALDI employed 52,197 people in the United States.

According to the AXIOS article published April 20, 2023, “shoppers often develop allegiances toward their local favorites, too — just ask anyone from upstate New York how they feel about Wegmans, for instance, and there’s a good chance it’ll be like they’re talking about their dearest friend.” In the northwest suburbs, similar allegiance exists with ALDI, and Trader Joe’s, too.

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