Houston’s Lidl Secret, the German grocer that almost came to town

Gobble Gobble, folks, and welcome back to Houston Historic Retail! Happy Thanksgiving, today, we’re taking a look at a grocer that you can’t find in Houston, although they once had grand plans for the entire state. I’m, of course, talking about Lidl! What’s that? You’ve never heard of Lidl, or you’ve never heard of their plans to come to Houston? Well, unsurprisingly, Lidl’s underpromotion resulted from larger issues with entering the United States, but let’s take a few steps back and introduce Lidl in the first place. Lidl (actually pronounced Lee-del) is a German deep discounter grocery chain in the vein of Aldi, but you likely could have guessed that simply upon. Lidl is a much older company than Aldi but did not get into the deep discount format until the 1970s, after watching Aldi’s explosive growth with the concept over the previous two decades. By the end of the 70s, Aldi had begun to expand internationally, even entering the United States during this time. Lidl, during this time, would focus on a German expansion to match Aldi’s presence. By the late 80s and early 90s, Lidl began an expansion into other parts of Europe, quickly growing to match Aldi’s scope. Around the 2000s, Aldi’s American growth really began to take off, with the chain starting to expand out of the Midwest for the first time. Lidl, seeking to emulate Aldi’s success, would, around this time, make their decision to target the USA as well.

A Lidl Location during the 2017 Grand Opening in New Jersey. Photo Credit: Jazz Man Flickr

Lidl’s entry to the United States officially began in 2015, when the company constructed an American Headquarters in Virginia and announced its initial plans. The chain would target the Eastern Coast of the U.S., with plans to open its first locations by 2018. The company planned to examine the local market and build its stores around what they felt American shoppers would want. Just about a year after the plans for the East Coast were announced, Lidl made a surprising move by announcing plans for stores in Texas. Even at the time, analysts were puzzled, noting that the state was “already densely populated with supermarkets.” While at the time it was not publically known, Lidl had hooked up with a Texas-based property developer, who would help them develop some of the East Coast stores and seemingly the Texas locations too. In 2017, the first Lidl locations opened in the U.S. ahead of schedule, and the future looked bright until the criticisms came in. When being described to new markets, Lidl had often been compared to competitor Aldi. A designation they were more than happy to accept. While superficially, the operations resembled each other, upon opening, many were disappointed to learn that Lidl was not a “true Aldi” experience.

Most complaints with Lidl’s first U.S. stores centered around the change made to serve the U.S. market better. Things like the stores being far bigger than an Aldi and carrying an odd selection of brands. Unlike Aldi, which stuck to the house brand and a few middle-of-the-road mainline options now and again, many Lidl items had many high-end brand names available. Finally, and most importantly, the biggest complaint was the prices, which were often higher than Walmart’s, leading to little customer demand. Finding themselves unable to keep up, Lidl temporarily paused plans for new locations in 2018. Around this time, Aldi’s expansion into Texas was in full force, with original locations being expanded into larger stores to serve increased traffic. If Lidl could not keep up with Walmart, they seemingly knew they could not fight against Aldi or HEB either, and quietly withdrew their plans to enter Texas. In the middle of 2020, the chain began to sell properties it had acquired as far back as 2017. Outside of Texas, the remaining Lidl stores readjusted, coming closer in line with Aldi and bringing their prices down too. While Lidl initially held onto some properties in Texas, they have seemingly disposed of all locations as of 2022. At the time of cancelation, some preliminary work had started on the Houston properties, mostly involving grading the land and leveling existing structures. Since work stopped, the lots have had varying fates. Some have been sold and redeveloped, and many have also sat vacant, and a few are still under the purview of Lidl.


  1. I would like to shop in one here and i am waitin for that day to come BUT If lidl aint bringin european products or european store experience (freshly baked pastry and bread for example)closer to US people then theres no reason for expansion,also when i went to lidl they always had one country per week special dedicated products in eu so i hope they do the same here . I am from europe but livin here in Htown and there is a HUGE lack of European famous brand names which taste better and aint just full of sugar like US domestic counterparts. (Example:Regular peanut butter is made without sugar in eu and tastes perfectly fine ,while here in states its loaded with sugar for no reason). I am a big cheese lover and i ve tried many Wisconsin and well mexican brands from store but none can compete with HEB foreign cheese selection , just get lets say any sliced US brand Gouda and then compare it to actuall original Gouda from Germany/holland which you can buy at HEB. Same goes lets say for Chorizo from Spain(@heb) its better then any other “chorizo”/peperoni in states .Also do you know that actuall Fanta in europe contains some orange juice while here it coints no orange juice at all(check the label), wonder which one is better,really though choice. Results are night and day in favor ofc original . Because of this all mentioned above there should be more access to different brands from all over the world and lidl can do it but question is are they willin to do it in US.

  2. My friends in Europe have positive things to say about Lidl, especially as compared to Aldi, so it is a shame that they didn’t come here as planned. I’m not sure how well things would have gone for them if they are more expensive than Aldi. They might well have ended up in the Houston retail graveyard like so many other retailers, and grocers specifically, who came here, but I guess they did end up in the graveyard in a way.

    1. Aldi in th US is nothing close to Aldi in Germany – the same for Lidl
      unless they would offer a similar experience there is nothing good about either chains stores in the US

      1. There are actually two different Aldi groups which run the international Aldi stores, Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd. In Germany, Nord and Süd both operate in the countries with the northern half being operated by one and the southern half by the other. Süd operates the US Aldi stores while Nord operates the US Trader Joe’s stores. Maybe this explains why Trader Joe’s is a bit more upscale, but I went to an Aldi Süd store in Vienna many years ago, where it is called Hofer, and it was indeed nicer than the US Aldi stores so it’s not that Aldi Süd doesn’t know how to run nicer stores.

        In the US at least, I’m sure Aldi’s plan is to ensure they are cheaper than Wal-Mart or else they really have no reason to exist. With that in mind, they are a deep discount store, there is no doubt about that. Having said that, they are a bit nicer than some 1980s and 1990s versions of deep discount stores I remember such as Simple Saver, Gerland’s short-lived attempt at an Aldi-like store.

      2. You are wrong Mr. Huber, Aldi here in the US comes close to the Aldi in Germany in many ways. So would be Lidl if they ever make it to Texas, as it was planed at one point. To bad they changed their minds.I was looking forward to it so much.
        I lived in Germany for a good many Years and shopped in both Stores, and loved
        Lidl just a bit more,