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Loblaws' Price Gouging: Where To Shop Instead

Updated: May 11


a woman with a receipt

You may have heard - Loblaws has been accused of price gouging. Now, many Canadians are joining a month-long boycott against Loblaws in an attempt to ditch the corporate grocers and divert money to smaller, local grocery stores.


A Reddit group with nearly 70,000 members, aptly named "Loblaws is out of control," ignited the boycott.


It's become increasingly common to hear of customers left seething at the staggering prices throughout their local supermarket's aisles.



The most recent shock came from a Real Canadian Superstore customer — (Real Canadian is a a Loblaw Companies Ltd. affiliate) — where a particular beef tenderloin was tagged at an eye-watering $108 per kilogram. A frustrated shopper voiced their dismay on the Ontario subreddit, posting a picture of the 358g steak priced at $38.45.


“This is getting ridiculous ...This is more expensive than anywhere in the world by a mile, and I’ve lived in multiple countries,” they lamented, questioning the sustainability of such high costs. The discussion quickly gathered steam, with hundreds chiming in about ongoing supply chain issues and the potential profit-making from grocery inflation, which continues to outpace the general inflation rate for goods and services across Canada.


"The goal is for the company to reduce prices by 15% and remove member-only pricing," reports CBC. "But some grocery and economics experts say a boycott of a brand as massive as Loblaw is unlikely to have much, if any, impact."


Amidst the mounting grocery costs in Canada, I've taken the initiative to explore alternative shopping venues for essential grocery staples. After some thorough research, I've compiled a list of places where Canadians can find more budget-friendly options. Here they are, ready to ease your shopping woes and keep your pantry stocked without breaking the bank.


Loblaws's Price Gouging: Where To Shop Instead


Cheaper Alternatives


1. Your Local Grocer

Shopping at your local grocer in Vancouver offers numerous benefits over opting for large supermarket chains like Loblaws. By choosing local grocery stores, you're more likely to find organic and specialty items tailored to the community's preferences, contributing to a more personalized shopping experience and reducing your carbon footprint.


For a focus on truly local, smaller-scale grocers in Vancouver, here are a few local options:


  • Stong's Market - A locally owned and operated grocer that has been in Vancouver for decades, offering a wide range of fresh, local produce and products.

  • Address: 4221 Dunbar St, Vancouver, BC (and one other location in North Vancouver)

  • East End Food Co-op - A cooperatively-owned grocery store that specializes in organic, locally produced food.

  • Address: 1034 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC

  • Harvest Community Foods - A neighborhood grocery and noodle shop with a strong emphasis on local, organic ingredients and community-oriented initiatives.

  • Address: 243 Union St, Vancouver, BC

  • South China Seas Trading Co. - Offers a treasure trove of specialty ingredients from around the world, especially Asian and Latin American cuisines, perfect for adventurous cooks.

  • Address: 1689 Johnston St, Vancouver, BC (Granville Island)

  • Le Marché St. George - A quaint and rustic corner store that feels like stepping into a small European village shop, offering artisanal foods, coffees, and handmade goods.

  • Address: 4393 St George St, Vancouver, BC


These stores maintain a focus on community engagement and supporting the local economy, fitting the description of local grocers better than larger chains.


2. Amazon

It's cheap. It's convenient. It's better than Loblaws.


Coffee

coffee


Pasta

pasta



Diapers

diapers



Rice

rice



Lentils

lentils


3. No Frills


I personally don't understand the bad reputation that No Frills has - I shop there regularly. You just have to triple check the chicken expiry dates and occasionally check the packaging isn't leaking! I'm more than willing to do that to pay almost half the price of chicken when compared to Loblaws.


Why Do People Boycott Loblaws?


Skyrocketing Prices: Then and Now

The Loblaws boycott underscores growing public and political discontent amidst escalating grocery prices, which have left many Canadians grappling with the affordability of basic food necessities.


As the pandemic took hold in early 2020, grocery prices began an upward trajectory that has yet to see a downturn. Key staples such as butter, eggs, and meat, once considered affordable, have seen their prices almost double in some cases.


  • Butter: A kilogram of butter, priced at around CAD $4.50 pre-pandemic, now teeters around CAD $7 to $8.

  • Eggs: The price of eggs has jumped from approximately CAD $2.50 per dozen to nearly CAD $4.50 in many locations.

  • Diapers and Baby Food: One of the most egregious examples involves baby food and diapers. A standard pack of baby food pouches has escalated from CAD $1.50 each to almost CAD $3, while diaper costs have soared by nearly 30% compared to pre-pandemic figures.

  • Potato Crisps: Snack foods like potato crisps and even basic spices, previously seen as affordable indulgences, have not been spared, with increases ranging from 25% to 50%.

  • Coffee and Tea: Coffee, a daily staple for many, saw a 340g bag rise from CAD $6 to almost CAD $9. Teabags have followed suit, with a box of 100 climbing from CAD $5 to nearly CAD $7.

  • Fresh Produce: Apples and oranges, essential for a healthy diet, have seen a 20-30% price increase. For example, a kilogram of apples went from CAD $3.50 to around CAD $4.50.


Consumer Outrage and Corporate Responses

The consumer backlash has been palpable across various platforms, from social media to public protests. Loblaws, in turn, has often responded with statements that many perceive as tone-deaf or dismissive. In one infamous incident, a Loblaws spokesperson controversially remarked, "Inflation affects all sectors; we are simply adjusting to market demands," a statement that did little to quell the growing discontent among shoppers.


During a quarterly earnings call, Loblaws CEO Galen Weston mentioned, "We navigate these challenging times to ensure sustainability for our stores, not to exploit consumer necessity," a comment that clashed with the reality of many Canadians struggling to afford basic groceries.


Loblaws vs. Competitors

A comparative look at pricing across Canadian grocers reveals that Loblaws' price increases are not only higher on average but also more widespread across product categories. For example, a comparative analysis of grocery receipts from 2019 and 2022 shows that while competitors have increased prices by an average of 15-20%, Loblaws' hikes are in the 25-30% range.


The Role of Pandemic Profiteering

Reports and financial analyses suggest that Loblaws has benefited significantly from increased grocery spending due to the pandemic, with quarterly profits rising by as much as 40% year-over-year. These profits starkly contrast with the company's pricing narrative, which has been centered around coping with external pressures such as supply chain disruptions and increased supplier costs.


Looking Ahead: Consumer Advocacy and Legislative Action

As public scrutiny intensifies, consumer advocacy groups have ramped up calls for governmental intervention to implement a Grocery Code of Conduct, which would include monitoring and regulating grocery price hikes. Moreover, petitions and social media campaigns continue to gain traction, advocating for more transparent pricing practices and ethical corporate behavior.


Final Thoughts On Loblaws' Price Gouging


The controversy surrounding Loblaws' pricing strategies during a time of global crisis poses serious questions about corporate responsibility and consumer rights. As Canadians grapple with the economic fallout of the pandemic, the need for a fair and regulated grocery market has never been more apparent. The conversation around Loblaws' role in this landscape is far from over, with potential ramifications for the entire retail sector.


Are you boycotting Loblaws or similar grocery chains? Let me know in the comments below!




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