We went to investigate Aldi and Lidl's special deals and this is what we found – Birmingham Live

Aldi and Lidl are increasingly popular with families who are looking to economise on their weekly shopping bills.

German supermarket chain Aldi opened its first UK branch in the Stechford area of Birmingham in 1990 and since then has gone from strength to strength. Lidl, also a German brand, arrived in the UK four years later.

As well as their standard grocery selections, both discounters have special limited deals.

And at the moment, they are both boosting the bargains even more by running sales. Aldi has a massive Summer Sale and Lidl has launched a huge sale with up to 50 per cent off.

It looks like there are some great discounts to be had. So we thought we would investigate to see which store offered the best bargains.

We also wanted to see whether it would be a chaotic scrum of grabbing hands, crashing trolleys and big queues like we imagined - and as has been reported previously at some branches when a must-have item is on offer for an amazingly low price.

Our sister title EssexLive sent reporter Elliot Hawkins to find out - and with Aldi and Lidl having similar shop layouts and identical deals everywhere, including Birmingham, here's what he found.

Do you need an Inflatable Cat Island in your life? It's among the items on offer in Aldi's Specialbuys at the moment

We were expecting masses of people - but we were wrong

It was fairly quiet in the Aldi car park

When you see the words 'discount', 'sale' and 'low prices', you'd think it was fair to expect queues.

On my way to Aldi at around 9am on a Thursday morning I envisaged a car park full of vehicles, customers queuing outside the door to get in and very little space to move inside.

But what I actually found was quite the opposite. Okay, it wasn't peak time, but this week's new 'Specialbuys' had just been released and I expected people to be looking for a bargain.

Back in June, a dad of two found himself stuck in 80-minute queues at one Aldi branch.

They had just released their camping week items on the Thursday and, according to Ian Barrett, 37, his shopping trip turned into a "nightmare" when queues could be seen out the door as he arrived.

He was forced to wait for almost 90 minutes while the store resolved an electronic issue with the new items.

That's what I had in my head, and would explain my shock at finding a somewhat deserted supermarket.

We went to investigate Aldi and Lidl's special deals and this is what we found - Birmingham Live
Aldi is currently holding Baby & Toddler Week with its Specialbuys range of bargains

The Specialbuys vary week by week

Every week, Aldi releases a new range of items at reduced prices, claiming it gives everyone the chance to "try something new".

Their ranges include: Baby and toddler, DIY, Home, Electrical, Motor and travel, Pets, Sports and leisure, Health & Beauty and Bedroom

This Thursday (August 15) saw the launch of 'baby and toddler week', but that was by no means the only thing on offer.

Think nappies, wipes, potties, bibs, books, toys. Everything you can possibly consider as relevant for babies and young children, Aldi had it.

The Specialbuys were set out across six whole aisles, each one consisting of a completely different range of items.

And they were easy to spot, with the supermarket's iconic blue labels lining the top of every aisle.

That's why I was so shocked to find just one family looking at the Specialbuys when I made my way into the store.

We went to investigate Aldi and Lidl's special deals and this is what we found - Birmingham Live
Aldi's Amazing Specialbuys booklet available in its supermarkets

Loyal shoppers know exactly what's on offer and say the deals are expanding

Karen Vaughan, who was shopping with her family, is a big fan of Aldi's Specialbuys.

She said: "We saw the leaflet but we shop in here every week.

"We've done it more with the baby events but my husband comes to get the tools and other bits and pieces.

"They do a variety of stuff but every so often it's a baby event, every so often it's a tool event, or a fishing event, so they seem to roll it over and over again.

"We came for the bibs. You can get them for around £3.99 or £2.99 each online, but here you get a pack of two for the same price. And being just round the corner it's ideal."

Rachel had noticed that the baby range has expanded since the last time it was in the store.

"Last time it was mainly baby grows and nappies, and they have the books regularly," she said. "But things like the Teletubbies, I don't think I've seen that sort of thing before, or the lights."

Another shopper said: "I come here once a week, to one of the Aldi's. Sometimes I'll pick the leaflet up so I'm aware of what's on offer. They have a leaflet with all their Specialbuys on."

We went to investigate Aldi and Lidl's special deals and this is what we found - Birmingham Live
Airless Paint Sprayers for £179.99 in Lidl were the most expensive items on offer but it's still a bargain

Not all of the Specialbuys are dirt cheap

When it says 'Specialbuys', it doesn't necessarily mean low prices. Don't get me wrong, there are literally hundreds of items you could pick up for a few coins, but some of the more hi-tech items demand a higher price.

In the DIY section, an airless paint sprayer for £179.99 was the most expensive item I could find.

The price stuck out like a sore thumb next to the £2.99 spray paint, but even at just under £180 it was a great deal, with similar items from other retailers online costing far more.

You could usually expect to pay £500 to £700 for a similar sprayer, so it's still a bargain.

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But there are ways to make sure you get the best deals

With so many items to choose from it was difficult to take it all in, so here are some key things to remember when looking for Aldi specialbuys:

Get the leaflet - know what's being released each week and familiarise yourself with the items on sale.

Time your visit - while I was expecting more people than I found, make sure you pick a time when the shop's likely to be quiet. The last thing you want is to have to rush around to find the one thing you've come out for.

Follow the blue signs - The Specialbuys can be found in the middle aisles and are clearly signposted, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding them.

We went to investigate Aldi and Lidl's special deals and this is what we found - Birmingham Live
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There weren't huge crowds at Lidl either

It was equally quiet at Lidl.

After a relatively quiet and straightforward trip to Aldi, I went to find a bargain in this week's 'Middle of Lidl' sale.

Perhaps not quite as well known as 'Specialbuys' but certainly with a more catchy name, Lidl's weekly deal offers a specific range of items at discounted prices.

And with savings of between 20% and 50%, there's certainly a good deal to be found in the 'Middle of Lidl'.

We went to investigate Aldi and Lidl's special deals and this is what we found - Birmingham Live
Lidl didn't have quite as much variety in its special offers as Aldi

Things change in the 'Middle of Lidl' too

Similarly to Aldi, Lidl has a range of product-specific deals and offers that are introduced every Thursday and Sunday.

Hence the name, these items can be found in the middle of the shop, located across a couple of aisles.

And the orange price labels for the deals make them easy to spot too.

This Thursday's deal was 'The Big Sale', with prices for a variety of household items, sports equipment and beauty products being slashed by up to 50%.

Upcoming 'Middle of Lidl' offers include:

Garden essentials (from Thursday, August 22)

Flower market (from Thursday, August 22)

Home essentials (from Sunday, August 25)

Kids' toys (From Sunday, August 25)

Cycling accessories (From Sunday, August 25)

I didn't know what to expect as it was the first time I'd been to the supermarket on the day of a 'Middle of Lidl' sale. And to my surprise, it was just as quiet in here as it was down the road in Aldi.

Where was everybody? Did they know these deals were happening?

We went to investigate Aldi and Lidl's special deals and this is what we found - Birmingham Live
There are huge savings on some of the more expensive items like exercise equipment

But there wasn't as much variety as there is at Aldi

I have to admit, I was slightly disappointed with the amount of stock included in the deal.

The 'middle' of the store section was located at the back of the supermarket, and the Thursday offers took up just half an aisle.

But there were some huge savings on the more expensive items.

While there was a distinct lack of items, there was very much a variety among what was there.

This Thursday's deal was 'The Big Sale', meaning there wasn't a specific type of product on reduction. Instead, there was everything from sports equipment to hedge trimmers and from nail lamps to headphones.

Much like Aldi, the prices varied considerably. You could pick up a two-pack of all-purpose kitchen mats for just 99p but - if you had £129 spare - you could grab yourself an exercise bike.

We went to investigate Aldi and Lidl's special deals and this is what we found - Birmingham Live
But it was a bit of an obstacle course with the bulkier items at Lidl. Should we get on the rowing machine to reach the packs of ham and bacon?

One other negative would be that some of the items were almost spilling out into the middle of the aisle, with huge boxes containing bikes and rowing machines taking up quite a lot of room.

But if you find a way to manoeuvre yourself around the boxes, there's a bargain or two to be found.

There are also a few ways to guarantee finding the best bargains

Here's a few top tips to making the most of your bargain-hunting at Lidl. Happy shopping!

Look online before you visit - there isn't quite as much of a variety of items on offer at Lidl as you'd expect to find at Aldi. But there are some huge discounts, so make sure something you're after is available on any given week.

Find the red 'price cut' labels - these are where you'll find the biggest discounts, with items cut by up to 50%.

Look for the middle - it might seem obvious, but make sure you head straight to the middle to get to the front of the queues during peak times.

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