Aldi online Specialbuys to ‘cease’ in 2023: supermarket click and collect and home delivery impact explained

The discount supermarket has seen profits tumble as it bids to keep prices low amid the cost of living crisis

Aldi could be set to halt most of its online retail operations in favour of focusing on its in-store offering.

According to reporting by The Sun, the country’s fourth largest supermarket will stop offering Specialbuys via its website - although it has only confirmed part of its online service will cease. It comes after the discounter was named the UK’s cheapest supermarket in 2022 by consumer watchdog Which?.

The German company finished last year with big price cuts on its turkeys and vegetables. But it was also hit over the Christmas period by shipping delays, which affected its famous middle aisle.

Shop price inflation for food items soared throughout 2022, and continues to be a major driver of the soaring cost of living in 2023. With the issue set to remain with us for at least the next 12 months, retailers like Aldi are likely to continue their focus on offering value - even if these ranges have not been immune to price hikes.

But why is Aldi set to shut down its online operation - and what will it mean for you? Here’s what you need to know.

Aldi is set to close down most of its online offering (image: Adobe)

What could happen to Aldi online?

According to The Sun, Aldi is going to close down almost its entire online business in 2023.

Its website retail arm has been open since 2015, initially offering customers wine cases before expanding it to include Specialbuys and part of its grocery range. Customers can purchase these items online for home delivery, as well as click and collect at certain stores.

But while there was a spike in online shopping during the Covid-19 pandemic - jumping from 20% of all retail sales in the pre-pandemic period to more than 35% at its peak during the third national lockdown, according to ONS figures - consumers have returned to stores in increasing numbers since restrictions ended. Online shopping only became profitable for retailers during the pandemic.

At the same time, costs have increased for supermarkets as they battle to remain competitive on price during the cost of living crisis. In Aldi’s latest accounts for the year to 31 December 2021, keeping prices low was cited as being a major reason behind why its pre-tax profits dropped.

The accounts, published at Companies House, showed that they fell to £35.7 million from £264.8 million in 2020. Meanwhile, sales rose £115 million to £13.6 billion during the same period.

So, with in-store shopping booming - Aldi has a target of having 1,000 stores across the UK - the discounter appears to want to focus investment on its retail estate rather than its online division.

What has Aldi said?

In comments it gave to The Sun, Aldi has confirmed it will be shutting down some of its online operations.

An Aldi spokesman said: “We keep our prices low by being the most efficient retailer in Britain and we have therefore taken the decision to stop selling wine and spirits online for home delivery from later this month. We will also stop selling our Specialbuys online for home delivery later this year.”

Asked by the tabloid whether the change would result in any job losses, it declined to comment. But it said it would be “exploring different options for our colleagues across Aldi”.

It is unclear when its website will stop taking orders for home deliveries. However, the supermarket will continue to offer a click and collect service for its groceries.