Cost of living crisis: Shopping for grocery bargains at Lidl in Sheffield to help make ends meet

Mid-month in March and I’m in Lidl in Heeley, Sheffield, searching for the bargain buys to eke out my overstretched budget.

By Julia Armstrong
Friday, 11th March 2022, 9:05 am

There’s a Big Issue seller smiling hopefully at the door and a Jaguar SUV cruises past, looking for a parking space. I wonder if they’ve had their tyres slashed by climate protesters.

Heeley is that sort of contradictory place, home to artisan coffee shops and vegan takeaways as well as a B&M Bargains and a new Poundland about to open in the retail park.

Average, in other words, and feeling the pinch, but we’re still a world away from the daily struggles of our neighbours in Gleadless Valley, 10 minutes up the road.

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Bagging a bargain - Lidl in Sheffield still has plenty of cheap offers, but few staff on the checkouts

I’m on the national average wage, a single person with a big mortgage and other debts and a lovely lodger who has just anxiously inquired if I need help with the sky-rocketing gas and electricity bills.

Like a lot of people, I feel like it wouldn’t take much for my financial house of cards to come crashing down.

So, although I’m on this shopping trip to write something for work, I am seriously hunting for cheap groceries.

I smirk to myself at the sign advertising organic carrots for 65p – clearly Lidl know the Heeley market.

Shopping at Lidl in Sheffield helps to stretch the pennies further - if you are prepared to stand in a long queue

And they are still living up to their discount reputation – baked beans, which are nudging £1 in many places, are only 22p for a tin of their own brand.

‘It’s really striking how much still costs less than £1 at Lidl’

A pack of penne pasta is an impossibly cheap 55p, two litres of organic skimmed milk comes in at £1.45 and bananas are 78p a kilo.

Dog food is amazingly cheap – a bag of dry food cost £2.99 and I’ve paid up to twice that recently. Dog treats are 65p a pack, half the cost of other supermarkets.

It’s really striking how much still costs less than £1 – only two of the items I bought cost me more than a quid.

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However, there is always a price to pay – and I guess Lidl’s suppliers must be paying some of it.

It’s also noticeable how few staff there are, which has always been a feature at Lidl. Only one checkout is open and the rest of us have to join a long queue to use the self-service tills, snaking quite a way back up one aisle.

One member of staff hovers, patiently waiting to sort out problems for shoppers.

Unfortunately, as the queue is in the drinks aisle, I am tempted by a bottle of red wine – at least it’s under a fiver.

I don’t know if it’s a staffing or a supply issue, but there are no tins of tomatoes to be found. Annoying as they would have been cheap – has anyone else noticed how expensive they have become in many shops?

Two bags of shopping cost me £15.63 and that will help to get me and the dog through the next few days. If I’d put the wine back, it would have been £11.14.