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Lidl, the Germany-based discount chain, has increased its estimate of how many stores it plans to open in the US in 2018 by 50 percent, now saying it plans to open 150 units during its first year on US shores. Forbes reports that the decision to make a bigger splash in year one may be related to ramped-up expansion plans at Aldi, which now as some 1,600 stores in the US with expectations that "by the end of 2018, some 1,500 Aldi stores will be open in the area between Kansas and the East Coast alone," with plans to "open 80 to 130 stores annually."

The Forbes piece says that these expansion plans indicate "that Lidl and Aldi are now saturated in their original European markets, where they now dominate the low-price food sector.  Since entering Great Britain in 2012, these low-priced, rudimentary supermarkets have experienced spectacular success. As each gained market share, the profits of the major U.K. food chains, Tesco, Morrison and Sainsbury, were decimated.  With their confidence bolstered, the managements of these two retailers see the U.S. as the next great opportunity."

In a related story, Bloomberg reports that Aldi plans to spend the equivalent of $390 million (US) "developing more upmarket stores" that "will emphasize product quality, improve lighting and add refrigerator space for more fresh produce."

The story goes on:

"While cutting prices on 30 percent of its products so far this year, Aldi has also won favor with more affluent Brits, who have cast aside stereotypes of Aldi as a place where only hard-up consumers shop. The price war, sparked by Aldi and rival discounter Lidl, has seen profits tumble at larger rivals such as Tesco Plc, while Wal-Mart Stores Inc’s U.K. chain Asda posted its worst-ever sales decline this year.

"In chasing more upmarket shoppers, Aldi is following Lidl’s lead. Its rival began shedding its no-frills image last year by developing stores with wider aisles and baby-changing facilities."
KC's View:
This is all serious stuff ... and at the risk of beating a dead horse, I think US retailers - especially those who depend on any sort of price/value-oriented image - have to take this as a kind of existential threat to their viability and existence. These guys mean business ... and mostly, they mean to take yours.