Canadians are struggling with inflated grocery prices as much as Americans and, like U.S. grocers, Loblaw Cos. has taken action.
Brampton, Ontario-based Loblaw, Canada’s largest supermarket retailer, yesterday instituted a price freeze on more than 1,500 items under its no name value-focused own brand. The private-label line spans a range of staple grocery and household products (click here to see video) and already provides an average savings of 25% over comparable national brands, the company said.
No name brand prices will be frozen through the end of January. Items include such essentials as apples, potatoes, butter, eggs, cheese, rice, pasta, toilet paper and paper towels, Loblaw said, noting that the products are “available within minutes of most Canadians” and sold in more than 2,400 stores, including Loblaws, Zehrs, Real Canadian Superstore, no frills, T&T, Atlantic Superstore, Maxi and Shoppers Drug Mart.
Loblaw President and Chairman Galen Weston announced the program in an email message to millions of members of the retailer’s PC Optimum loyalty program. His message also is posted on the Loblaw website.
“I’m reaching out today to address an issue that’s top of mind for most Canadians: food prices. Anyone who regularly visits the grocery store knows that, over the past year, the cost of food has increased rapidly. In fact, the price of an average basket of groceries is up about 10% this year and almost 15% over two years,” Weston said in the message.
“Maddeningly, much of this is out of our control. Your grocery bill is higher today because the suppliers who make the products we sell are raising their prices for us. And while we’ve challenged (and will continue to challenge) any unfair price increases, the truth is most are reasonable. Suppliers’ basic costs are way higher than they’ve been in decades,” he explained.
The price freeze for no name products is designed to “hit the brakes on food inflation” for Canadian shoppers, Weston noted. Indeed, BMO Financial Group reported in its BMO Real Financial Progress Index for September that, over the past three months, 75% of Canadians polled said their concerns about inflation have increased, and over 75% feel their financial momentum threatened by higher grocery bills (81%) and the rising cost of gas (76%).
“We’re freezing prices of all no name products — more than 1,500 grocery essentials, sold in our stores across the country — until Jan. 31, 2023,” Weston said in the email. “On average, no name prices are already 25% cheaper than comparable name brands. Coupled with this price lock, that could make a real difference in both your grocery bills and your peace of mind. You’ll know that if other food prices go up, no name prices won’t.”
Loblaw said it will continue to serve up price relief in its regular flyer and across its stores. Weston also encouraged customers to check out PC Optimum, saying the programs personalized offers have enabled some members to regularly save 10% on their grocery bills. The retailer reported that PC Optimum this year is on track to reward a record of well above $1 billion in loyalty points.
In reporting second-quarter results, Loblaw noted that sales upticks reflected gains in its No Frills and Maxi discount food banners, heightened in part by the no name brand.
“Customers recognized the value, quality and convenience delivered through our diverse store formats, control-brand products and our PC Optimum loyalty program,” Weston stated in the Q2 report.
Overall, Loblaw’s retail network encompasses 2,437 stores, including 539 corporate-owned supermarkets under multiple banners, 552 franchised grocery stores and 1,346 Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix associate-owned drugstores.