The Reason People Have Been Disappointed With Aldi Recently

Aldi has been suffering from stocking setbacks. Yesterday, one shopper from New Jersey took to Reddit to ask others whether they too experienced utterly empty aisles, a lack of featured items, and a barren freezer section. Others had, sharing their own exasperations (via Reddit).

Many Reddit users attributed Aldi's stock disruptions to issues brought on by the pandemic and the winter. "A lot of livestock died in the cold temps," one user commented in regards to winter storm Uri, which heavily affected ranchers and farmers in Texas, per Modern Farmer. Others complained about the emptiness of the Aisle of Shame — that's what Aldi fans call the middle aisle filled with Aldi Finds and a rotating assortment of non-food products, per Aldi Reviewer. One Reddit user, @non-curamus, theorized that since a lot of Aisle of Shame products are "made in China [...] you'll likely see supply issues for the rest of the year. Factories were shut down, ships didn't run, etc."

Back in April 2020, the Maritime Executive warned that the coronavirus pandemic was revealing the fragility of the world's supply chains, as manufacturing was stalled due to the outbreak of the virus, limited health equipment, and necessary health measures.

However, as the original Reddit poster wrote in response to these explanations, they understood these issues, of course, but found it strange how their store had not been affected until recently. Other Aldi stores, however, have clearly been struggling with stock for longer, as another shopper posted on the Aldi subreddit five months ago (via Reddit).

Aldi only orders more stock when they need it

Setbacks in Aldi's stock may be due to a number of reasons, with each store facing its own specific problems. After all, Aldi has been thriving during the pandemic, according to CNN, with customers gravitating towards discount stores for their groceries and essential needs. CNN reported that Aldi was expanding its reach and looked to be the third-largest supermarket chain in the United States by 2022.

The reason, however, that Aldi has been having recent stock problems may be due to their "just-in-time" approach to inventory management. According to the Guardian, Aldi's founders use the philosophy of kaizen, the now widely embraced Japanese business idea of continuous improvement, when it comes to stocking their inventory. To reduce the bulk, Aldi is delivered stock only when it's needed, thus cutting the cost of storing items that no one is buying.

This system enables Aldi to pursue its goal of providing customers with the lowest possible price, but, as The Balance notes, the "just-in-time" approach means working with a delicate supply chain. When a supplier runs into trouble, an unexpected customer surge occurs, or when the world is hit by a pandemic, the products no longer reach the shelves in time. Just as importantly, since Aldi customers know Aldi only stocks in an ad hoc manner, there may be runs on certain items — and then shortages. For this reason, in 2020, Aldi had to put customer limits on certain items as they faced shortages (via WCSJ News).