Insider’s perspective on Canadian perceptions of grocery stores

How Canadians view grocers: expert

“Canadians were shocked and outraged when grocery giant Loblaw Co. announced its plans to reduce discounts on expiring items at its stores. This decision prompted a swift and negative public reaction, highlighting the strong emotions and opinions people have about the company,” said retail expert Bruce Winder in an interview with CTV News Channel.

The Responsibility of Big Companies

Winder explained that while grocers often have to increase prices when suppliers raise costs, they are also seen as having a broader responsibility to society and the environment, beyond just making a profit. The “low margin” industry puts grocers in a difficult position, as they strive to balance economic interests with social and environmental responsibilities.

Loblaw’s Controversial Decision

In January 2024, Loblaw announced a reduction in the discount difference from 50% to 30% on expiring in-store items. This decision sparked widespread backlash from experts, Canadians, and government officials, ultimately leading to Loblaw reversing the decision in response to public pressure.

Public Outcry

Sylvain Charlebois, director of Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab, noted that the public outcry was driven by desperation, as Canadians are struggling with the increasing cost of living, from housing and food to gas and everyday essentials. The decision to reduce discounts on expiring items came at a time of rising food inflation, further exacerbating the financial challenges faced by Canadians.

A Turning Tide for Loblaw

Retail experts and consumers alike expressed shock and disappointment at Loblaw’s initial decision. Many implored the company to reconsider, citing the ongoing food inflation and financial struggles experienced by Canadians. The public response has raised questions about the company’s reputation and could signify a turning point for Loblaw.

Setting a New Precedent

Despite the controversy, Charlebois believes that Loblaw could set a new precedent in the industry with its discounting policies, potentially encouraging other grocers to follow suit. He expressed hope that other grocers would adopt a 50% discount on expiring food items, which would be a welcome development for consumers.

In conclusion, Loblaw’s decision to reduce discounts on expiring items has sparked a larger conversation about the social and environmental responsibilities of big companies, and the impact of their decisions on consumers. The public’s response to this controversy highlights the deep connection that Canadians feel with the grocery giant, and raises larger questions about corporate social responsibility and the role of businesses in society.”



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