As a university student, there is no color more beautiful than the deep pink of Loblaw’s 50 percent discount stickers. While facing stressors of academic, personal, and financial worries throughout the day, these stickers have grown to be a comfort for many. Lining cupboards and freezers alike, these foods fuel customers at a reduced price while diminishing waste of expiring or so-called imperfect products. Therefore, a shudder was felt when “The Food Professor,” Sylvain Charlebois, posted to social media calling out Loblaws for a rumor they had heard. Loblaws, who had always offered a range of discounts going as high as 50 percent on products near expiring, were shifting to cap these discounts at 30 percent. George Minakakis, CEO of Inception Retail Group, was surprised by this decision, calling the company out for a lack of logic that will lead to more food being thrown out and disappointment among customers.
However, less than a week after the announcement of the discount changes, Loblaws has discarded their plan. “We have listened to the feedback from our customers and colleagues,” said the company, “customers can expect to see 50 percent stickers returning in the next few weeks.” With the rising price of groceries, this news was welcomed by many. Fourth-year psychology student Marin MacDonald spoke on the discount scandal saying, “the discounts are the reason I shop at Independent, I considered changing my store when I heard the news.” Like many, MacDonald was happy about the retraction of Loblaws’ plan, stating that her cart is always full of discounted items when she shops. With such few grocery options in Sackville, a change like this would have had a large impact.
With the crisis now averted, some people are still wondering why Loblaws would enact this plan in the first place. Charlebois speculates discount-fixing, a system where companies alter their prices to match those of their competitors. In Canada, price fixing is illegal, however, evidence of its occurrence continues to circulate. Last June, Canada Bread Company agreed to a 50 million dollar fine for their role in a price fixing scheme. Beginning in 2007, the largest bread distributors and sellers agreed to slowly raise the price of bread for consumers over the following years. These kinds of agreements ensure that competition among retailers will be regulated and consumers will spend more. With the scandal now coming to light it has been calculated that these plans raised the price of bread by an extra $1.50 over 16 years—a raise orchestrated by greed.
As the battle against grocery prices persists, happiness can be felt across the country as the 50 percent off pink stickers avoid extinction, for now.