Canada desperately needs ‘real’ discount grocers


This may come as a surprise to some Canadians, but we do not have a true discount grocery chain in our country. With more and more consumers looking to escape from inflation, real discount grocery stores come in handy. But the options are simply not there.

Rebates have been scarce in recent years, as No Frills and value grocers like Empire’s FreshCo and Metro’s Food Basics have backed off significantly from their ongoing battle with Walmart. Quebec is even worse. Shoppers can find Metro’s Super C or Maxi, owned and operated by Loblaw. Sobeys does not operate a discount chain in Quebec. All banners and stores are connected to just a handful of grocery stores that dominate the Canadian market.

Walmart now has its own price locks, and Rob Lowe just ended a 14-week price freeze, but it’s hard to show beyond reasonable doubt that consumers are actually saving money. No. Consumers appeared to have saved some money in January, but it wasn’t obvious to many after months of double-digit food inflation.

Rebates are not as aggressive as those found in European-based discount stores. Sometimes an imminent threat rocks industry giants as they attempt to battle it out for market share. But as soon as the danger has passed, a truce of sorts overwhelms the market. This is what happened when Target came out in his 2015 and left soon after, and a few years ago when rumors swirled that Amazon Fresh would attempt to enter the Canadian market. is.

For years, reports have suggested that both Lidl and Aldi will enter the Canadian market. we are still waiting However, German international discount retail chain Lidl opened its first store in the US in 2017 and now operates about 200 stores. Aldi, another German company, now has over 2,300 stores in the US. Both have similar business models, focusing all their efforts on straightforward discounts. Aldi owns Trader Joe’s in the US, but both are what you get for what you see.

Unlike traditional grocers, both Lidl and Aldi operate with a limited selection strategy, offering only select private label products and a small number of domestic brands. Lidl may have more branded products depending on location. This reduces overhead costs and allows stores to sell their products at lower prices compared to their competitors. Additionally, these discount grocers have implemented cost-saving measures such as my-bag policies, incredibly minimalist store designs, and efficient checkout processes. In Europe, most of the bagging work is done by the customers themselves, so clerks usually sit while they work at these discount grocery stores.

Lidl and Aldi’s strategy benefits consumers with lower prices and contributes to a more sustainable and efficient retail environment. Some no-frills stores, such as No Frills, do some of that, but not nearly to the same level. Lidl and Aldi are also known for their focus on quality. Their products must meet strict quality standards while being affordable.

In recent years, non-traditional grocers such as Costco, Dollarama, Giant Tiger and Walmart have slowly changed to fill the discount void that exists in Canada.Costco stands out. Just 15 years ago, Costco was a mediocre food retailer at best. Today, we process many of our fresh products on-site, and the quality and freshness rarely disappoint. The deals are impressive, but shoppers need both car and home space.

The gist is this. Canada needs disruptors, new players who will redefine competition in the grocery industry. Loblaw turned over 10 of his stores in Quebec into his discount maxi store just because he saw the saying on the wall. Grocery stores are getting comfortable, coupled with regulatory complacency. Maybe too comfortable.

I can only hope that one of Aldi’s, Lidl’s, or non-Canadian discount grocers reads this column. Canadians are calling you.

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Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Epoch Times.