The snow gear sale at Waterloo, in Sydney. Picture: Jenny Evans.
The snow gear sale at Waterloo, in Sydney. Picture: Jenny Evans.

Big problem with Aldi special buys

AN ALDI sale is a unique beast.

Customers get there early, wait in massive lines and storm the store entrance once doors open. Manners largely go out the window but the chaos is good for Aldi. The discount supermarket thrives on it.

Saturday saw Aldi stores around the country packed for the annual snow gear sale. Customers lined up from 7am - almost two hours before doors opened. Those who got to the front of the queue assumed, rightfully, they'd get first look what was on offer. But many didn't.

Instead, as those upfront filed in, others raced around to the cashier exits and slid through that way. They got to the sale items in the centre of the store first, tossed items around and infuriated customers who had wasted their morning lining up early.

"The customers were not so polite at Burwood One shopping centre in Victoria," Nicole McDonnell told news.com.au.

Keen shoppers line up outside Aldi at Kelvin Grove. Picture: Claudia Baxter
Keen shoppers line up outside Aldi at Kelvin Grove. Picture: Claudia Baxter

"I arrived at 8.10am and was about 30th in line, by the time 8.30am came there was around 150 people lined up. As the doors opened around five to 10 of the first in line went in and then the entire crowd started running in, not through the entry gate but through the register aisles.

"Unlike many Aldi stores there isn't just one entry point. It was like a scene out of a movie. It was disappointing for those of us who had arrived early only to be pushed to the back, thankfully I only had one item to get and was in and out in no time."

It's not a new gripe. Bargain hunter Jodie Gent expressed similar outrage after lining up early for Aldi's Dyson vacuum cleaner clear-out in December last year.

"Feeling disgusted by the behaviour of some people pushing in front of me to get a Dyson vacuum this morning after I was one of the first few in the line waiting for sometime before shops opened," she said.

"Consequently I missed out. Disappointed Aldi staff let this happen."

But what if, just for the sake of argument, it wasn't chaotic? What if people didn't burst through the sliding doors and shoulder each other out of the way to get the first vacuum, or ski jacket, or loungeroom armchair?

There's a simple solution that customers have long been calling for - a ticketing system that rewards those who turn up first.

Aldi trailed the system in a number of stores during the Dyson sale but did not roll it out on Saturday.

Aldi previously told news.com.au a ticketing system is only enforced by store managers, and isn't a measure forced upon each supermarket by headquarters.

Long lines are standard. Picture: Darren England
Long lines are standard. Picture: Darren England

"Aldi Special Buys have become very popular with shoppers and often attract large crowds," a spokesman said.

"On days we anticipate a high volume of customers, many of our Store Managers implement additional measures, such as ticketing systems."

Aldi did learn certain lessons and made changes ahead of Saturday's sale.

While a lack of stock has been an issue in the past, it wasn't on Saturday. Before doors opened at the Preston South store in Melbourne's north, an Aldi staffer emerged to reassure customers there was plenty of stock for everyone.

"Thank you for waiting," he said. "We've worked very hard and have enough stock for all of you. Please be respectful and patient."

Most were, but some employed "unfair tactics".

Emily Wood told news.com.au she lined up with her mum at the Maroochydore store in Queensland ahead of the pair's New Zealand ski trip. They got everything they needed but they weren't too pleased with how customers conducted themselves.

"We arrived at Aldi at 7.45am and the line had already filled the car park," she said.

"We sat in the car for a while debating whether we should even bother trying and decided we may as well. We saw lots of kids and mothers with trolleys looking ready to fight it out to the death.

Empty crates where Dyson vacuum cleaners were snapped up.
Empty crates where Dyson vacuum cleaners were snapped up.

"There was at least 100 people in front of us and when the doors opened we were expecting to hear running and screaming but it was so relaxed.

"My mum and I managed to score everything we wanted which included thermals, boots, gloves and ski jackets. We decided to try them on in the different aisles with a bit of space.

"I started to notice a lot of trolleys being filled to the brim with things and I saw people going through their trolleys, trying things on and dumping stuff they didn't want."

While some left disgruntled, many praised Aldi staff for how organised they were.

"The staff were amazing that had to be there at the crack of dawn," Ms Wood wrote.

"There was one man on the front door making sure everyone got in safe, another in the middle of the aisle to answer questions on products, and another one restocking the bins on repeat."

Anne Fratini told news.com.au the sale at the Belmont store in Perth went off without a hitch.

"It was well stocked, staff were helpful in locating items. Never having queued for a sale before it was an interesting experience. Very happy to have successfully completed my shopping list."


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