You probably saw in the news last week that Lidl has agreed to pay all its staff a Living Wage. This is great news, and a major breakthrough for people on low wages. Surprisingly, what makes this such a breakthrough is that Lidl is the first supermarket to agree to pay the Living Wage. Not the upmarket Waitrose, nor those with the biggest share of the market like Tesco, but the cut-price bargain brand Lidl.
The Living Wage is an independently calculated hourly rate which attempts to express how much someone who works full time needs to earn in order to live a decent life, able to participate in our society. It is currently set at £7.85 an hour, or £9.15 for people living in London. This should not be confused with the inaccurately named “national living wage” announced by the government in the July budget of £7.20 an hour. Being less than the already calculated living wage, it is not actually enough to live on, and when changes to tax credits come into play, it will fall even further short.
So, having shouted about the Living Wage for long enough, I thought I’d better put my money where my mouth is and go and shop there. I know I’ve lived in Sheffield nearly two years, but most of it still feels new to me, but I managed get from Ecclesall Road to Chesterfield Road without getting lost.
There’s always issues when shopping somewhere new, because you never quite know where everything is when you get there. And I was in a rush. But my trip was surprisingly stress free, helped by the fact that I expected not to be able to buy everything I wanted so didn’t spend ages searching. I couldn’t find Fair Trade coffee, hot chocolate or bananas, but a friend in Norfolk assures me she can buy such things when she goes to Lidl, so I’ll keep looking. I also couldn’t find the particular dairy-free products I need for a family member (soya desserts, dairy-free margarine etc). But most other things on my list were on the shelves.
It wasn’t quite the bargain palace I expected either. If you buy branded products, then they are cheaper in Lidl. But I don’t normally bother with that, and so found that the branded products in Lidl were not cheaper than the usual supermarket own-brand that I buy. (Some of you know where I usually shop, but I’m not going to divulge it here – you’ll judge me!) But Lidl’s own-brand products were cheaper. Now we’ll just have to see how they taste. I’ve had complaints about the Lidl version of Shreddies, but the baked beans I ate today were great.
Will I shop there again? Yes. I’ll need to be better organised, as I’ll need to go somewhere else as well to get everything I need. But the staff were friendly, and the shelves weren’t full of really annoying offers that aren’t actually offers at all. Though I’ve seen today that Morrisons has agreed to pay its staff £8.20 an hour – over and above the living wage. Perhaps I’ll have to go there next week!