Aldi’s Corner Store is different in a good way for busy commuters

Aldi's Corner Store opens in Melbourne on Thursday.

Aldi's Corner Store opens in Melbourne on Thursday. Photo: TND

Aldi is extending its foray into the inner-city with a challenge to competitors in the convenience-focused market.

Aldi’s Corner Store will open in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD on Thursday, occupying space previously filled by a regular Aldi store.

This is Aldi’s third Corner Store in Australia, following the launch of the concept in Sydney last year.

Aldi director of customer interactions Adrian Christie told The New Daily that while the Melbourne Corner Store would have the same products offered by regular Aldi outlets at the same prices, there would be an emphasis on convenience in the food items for sale.

And the look is very different.

Changes to Aldi format

Like Woolworths Metro and Coles Central (formerly Coles Express), the Aldi Corner Store is designed with commuters and convenience in mind.

Mr Christie said time-poor Australians were increasingly swapping a big fortnightly shopping trip with more frequent visits, particularly during their commute to or from work.

Corner Store is designed to help them get in and out as quickly as possible.

‘‘As you walk in, you’re met with an artisanal bakery … and then you can get things like sushi, fresh salads, sandwiches, and they’re really appealing to those people that are working in the city who want to pick up a snack, lunch, or breakfast and get in and out,’’ he said.

Aldi Corner Store also offers self-checkouts, only the second Aldi store in Victoria to do so. And unlike traditional Aldi supermarkets, the layout is split into just three sections.

Special Buys, one of Aldi’s biggest drawcards, will be in the Corner Store on Wednesdays and Saturdays. But it won’t offer bigger items, such as fridges and washing machines.

Aldi is also looking into retail space availability in other Australian capital cities to open more Corner Stores. But the chain with more than 580 stores across the country was in no hurry to expand, Mr Christie said.

‘‘It’s just grow at the pace that addresses consumer demand,’’ he said.

Sign of things to come

University of Tasmania retail expert Louise Grimmer said Aldi was following Coles and Woolworths, which had focused on metro stores in recent years.

The increasing presence of convenience concepts from supermarket chains was driven by the high cost of real estate in popular city locations, and changes in behaviour as consumers shopped for fewer items, but more frequently, Dr Grimmer said.

Some retailers are taking a different approach to attracting customers, with IGA’s cheaper, warehouse-style offshoot Supa Valu entering the low-cost supermarket space, acting as an answer to traditional Aldi stores and Costco.

Dr Grimmer said supermarkets were ‘‘hollowing out the middle’’ by expanding into either end of the store spectrum.

‘‘Very broadly in the retail market now as well, we’re seeing lots of small stores everywhere, and then those big giant stores that are catering for the real discount shoppers,” she said.

Dr Grimmer said Australians could expect to see more smaller store formats pop up in more central locations.

“The bog-standard size supermarket that everyone used to go to once a week and trudge around with [their] trolley is changing now.”

The new-look Aldi Corner Store.

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