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Reddit Thread Calls For Month Boycott Of Loblaw’s

A Reddit group is calling for a boycott of Loblaw’s. The thread r/loblawsisoutofcontrol exists solely to slam Canada’s largest supermarket chain. The instigators want you to shop elsewhere for the whole month of May…

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The premise

Loblaws logo - © LoblawsThe group’s ‘manifesto’ states:

“Loblaw, and other major grocers in Canada enjoy the benefits of a monopoly on an essential service, and force us to pay utterly ridiculous prices. Canadians are facing a cost of living crisis, and grocers are a major contributor to this. Vulnerable populations such as seniors, persons with disabilities, and those on fixed incomes are left further behind. Food banks across the country are seeing a drastic increase in demand.”

So it’s calling for a month-long boycott of the largest supermarket chain in Canada in May. And adds, “obviously, you can boycott past this point.”

The Redditors want to force a 15 percent reduction in food prices across the board. They are also demanding that Loblaw’s abolish ‘member only pricing’, “where customers are forced to sign up for a PC optimum card in order to receive sale prices.”

But if you MUST shop at Loblaw’s, the group asks that you buy only the current ‘loss leaders’. Those are products priced artificially low – sometimes at a loss to the grocer – to get you into the store. Once there, you’ll be bombarded with a litany of tried and true supermarket strategies and tactics to get you to buy more.

And the Reddit brigade reminds all potential boycotters that they should also be targeting other supermarket chains that are owned by Loblaw’s.

‘Don’t shoot the messengers’

Prominent among the comments to the ‘manifesto’ post is one anonymously signed ‘Loblaw’s employee’, asking protesters not to take their food price frustration out on store staff…

Friendly reminder that employees of these stores DO NOT CONTROL PRICES, please don’t yell at them or complain about these issues, it’s the big guys that we’re upset with, and chances are they are just as upset too.”

Good point. And I can attest, from my own research and direct experience probing supermarket pricing policies, that even the store managers are powerless over prices.

All that aside…

However, Canada’s Food Guy, Prof. Sylvain Charlebois of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, says he’s not surprised by the boycott announcement.

“I think it’s quite expected to see so much anger against grocers, and in particular Loblaws,” he said. “Loblaw’s PR strategy over the last several months has been amazingly pathetic, to be honest. It’s like they were looking for this boycott.”

But Charlebois says the protesters’ ire is misdirected.

“When you look at the data, technically the boycott should be against all grocers because food prices have gone up everywhere, not just at Loblaws,” he suggests. “We did a survey recently and Loblaw’s is seen as the best discounter in the country, followed by Walmart, third place is Costco, fourth is Metro and fifth is Giant Tiger.”

Bottom line, Charlebois predicts, the boycott will not result in any lowering of prices.

My take

I agree with Charlebois. The boycott was inevitable. I also agree that it will not have any significant effect on food prices. Unless hundreds of thousands of consumers rally to the cause. And I don’t think that’s likely. Even if the masses did heed the call, I wonder how long they would keep up the protest.

Nevertheless, I think it’s a good thing that some highly-motivated folks are keeping up a noise about food prices. Awareness, as they say, is the first step toward solving a problem..

~ Maggie J.