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Eat & Drink

Why Pay Double at Loblaws?

Posted by Tim / March 18, 2006

One thing I really don't get is why people continue to shop at Loblaws. With all the other grocery store options out there today - be it a local market in Kensington or a big box store like Costco - the Loblaws proposition just doesn't seem to add up.

For the last few months I've been buying a lot of groceries at the No Frills at Dundas and Lansdowne. It's a nice, clean store with great produce, plenty of parking and good prices. In fact, as far as I can tell, prices on pretty much everything are cheaper than at their sister chain Loblaws. (Loblaws and No Frills are both owned by Loblaw Company Limited)

While No Frills is theoretically a more downscale shopping experience than Loblaws, I fail to grasp what frills I would be getting at Loblaws that justify paying twice the price for a bunch of rapini. What's selling today for 97 cents at No Frills costs $1.99 at a Loblaws at St. Clair and Bathurst.



Tyson WIlliams / March 18, 2006 at 05:07 pm
You are correct...

Loblaws is often double the price of the SAME PRODUCTS at No Frills. And Loblaws staff is as rude and without any customer service skills as No Frills clerks. I shop at Costco and Food Basics (cheap very version of Dominion - and I mean cheap LOL). Why waste money!
Gloria / March 18, 2006 at 05:41 pm
We've pretty much always bought our groceries at No Frills (or Food Basics, whatever wasn't Loblaws) and only shopped at the Loblaws on the corner for emergencies or exclusive products we like. One Chunky Soup is $2 at Loblaws ... 1 at No Frills.
Wrenkin / March 18, 2006 at 06:09 pm
That's pretty much it. You get everything you can on your list at No Frills, and then go to Loblaws for the rest/gourmet things. Of course, if you're gonna go to Loblaws for that kinda thing you might as well go to Whole Foods.
JackAtM2 / March 18, 2006 at 07:06 pm
I don't understand why people would even shop at no frills where things are a lot cheaper at T & T and Galleria
tim / March 18, 2006 at 07:38 pm
Jack - T&T is great. But for those of us who don't live north of the 401, it's a bit of a trek for the weekly grocery shop. For me, it functions more like a specialty store that I'd go to once a month.
jackAtM2 / March 18, 2006 at 08:38 pm
exactly, people shop and pay for the experience at Loblaws and No frills.. that's part of the packaging.. just like paying a lot more at Holt than
winners for the same pair of underwear.. sometimes, we need people to pay for a premium for things so we can have jobs.
Gloria / March 18, 2006 at 09:30 pm
I haven't noticed a major price difference at T&T ... but we mostly go there for products from Hong Kong and Japan, etc. anyway that you can't really find in a lot of other places.

If we don't go to No Frills for produce, we go to Chinatown.
JackAtM2 / March 18, 2006 at 11:59 pm
If you like beef, you have to check out Galleria in thornhill, a Korean Supermarket..
Katherine / March 19, 2006 at 10:02 am
I shopped at no frills and price choppers- both of which were hella out of my way - and found bugs in my food.

I'm sure they use the same warehouses and everything, but I'm sorry, I'll pay the extra couple of bucks for the lack of infestation.

Then again, I'm sure statistics would favour me if I could get there more often - is there a no-frills type deal near the Harbourfront?
ryan / March 19, 2006 at 10:40 am
price choppers and food basics are cheap but you often find more stale food and suspect fruits and veggies...
beth maher / March 19, 2006 at 10:58 am
Having recently moved back to the city, I am, at current, a connoisseur of groceries, and not much else.
I would never, ever shop at Dominion, their prices are the steepest in town, and it just gets steeper in more expensive neighbourhoods (why is it necessary to individually wrap all produce in plastic? Why?) - Price chopper on the other hand, I'm all for.
The Price Chopper in Richmond Hill is wonderful, they have all the fun things a Asian grocer would (like a wide variety of dim sum, lots of bok choy, and meat cut Korean-barbeque-style) spliced in between all the white people basics. It's like a two for one deal.
I'm actually ok with Loblaws. They have some fun things (purple carrots!), and occasionally some good deals, and nice, clean, reasonably priced produce, in a wider variety than you could find at a No-Frills (lack of variety is probably my only complaint with No-Frills). They are also noticeably cheaper than Zehrs. If you've ever shopped outside of the GTA, you'll know that Zehrs holds a strange monopoly over groceries elsewhere in Ontario. They suck. Think the prices of Dominion, in a No-Frills atmosphere.
If you ever traverse far enough to pass by a Giant Tiger, do go in. Although they function best as a local convenience store. If they brought them to Toronto, I would lose my mind. Ninety-nine cent chocolate lava cakes! Instant dinner party!
I love Longos. They aren't cheap, but they have such yummy, unique things. Totally worth the mark up.
Any Italian or Asian grocery store, is a good grocery store.
I am almost as passionate about this, as I am about malls.
Jeremy Wilson / March 19, 2006 at 12:41 pm
I live near a No Frills, a Price Chopper *and* a Loblaws. I almost never go to the first two. Why?

Loblaws has a distinct lack of smelly people, little boys peeing in corners, wilted and crappy vegatables or bad selections of products. They also have a fish and meat counter, and a good bakery.

Yes it costs more, but it's worth it to me to avoid the riffraff and unpleasantness.
JackAtM2 / March 19, 2006 at 06:56 pm
Loblaws is good when their frozen uncooked lobster tail is on sale(it was a few weeks ago)... I also like the PC specialty salad dressing, my favorite is Grilled Sesame Salad Dressing, small tiny bottle but very yummy... The only Dominion that's worth going in my area is the one at Yonge and finch, right inside a Tridel Condo, it's 24 hrs, and they have nice roast rosemary chicken there, yum.
tim / March 19, 2006 at 07:45 pm
jack and some others seem to be missing the point - or perhaps just don't care. the story here is that loblaws company limited gets the rapini (or beans or whatever the food product is) from the same supplier and at the same cost for both stores. yet it charges shoppers at loblaws up to twice the price. loblaws company limited is blatantly ripping loblaws shoppers off, and likely justifying it based on the difference in the brand promise/positioning for the two chains.
James / March 19, 2006 at 08:35 pm
I GOTTA chime in on this. Loblaws is priced about the same as Dominion. But it FAR EXCEEDS DOMINION in terms of quality of produce, freshness, selection, and service! Unfortunately, the closest grocery store to me is Dominion and I complain loudly each time I shop there to whomever is around to listen. They hate me and I hate them.
jackatM2 / March 19, 2006 at 08:52 pm
Tim, you pay a premium when you don't want smelly people around you when you shop. You pay a premium when you get fancy packaging.. for instance cold cuts are packaged in zip lock bag(resealable) at Loblaws cold cut counter..fruit and produce there are a lot more fresh. For example, compare grapes sold at TT vs. Loblaws, those at Loblaws are usually bigger and cleaner than those at TT.
Hamish Grant / March 20, 2006 at 09:48 am
(disclaimer: I work for one of the big three grocery companies)

The strategy behind the grocery chains all having premium and value 'banners' is that the big grocers want to get everyone's grocery dollar, no matter what their budget is. People shop in upscale stores partly because of the selection but also because of the atmosphere and the people they see themselves shopping with. You don't see the Baby Formula cans behind lock and key with the cigarettes at a Loblaws, but you do at a No Frills or Price Chopper. People who shop at value stores do so to stretch their dollar as far as it can go, because many of them can't spare much more. The grocers know they would have no chance getting people like that into a store that gives them a half decent profit margin, so they cut the price - they make take a loss on most sales at the value stores but they make it back at the premium stores. Everyone gets their food in the end. Think of it this way - if you shop at Dominion, Loblaws or Sobeys, you are essentially helping people save money at No Frills, Food Basics or Price Chopper.
jackAtM2 / March 20, 2006 at 07:48 pm
think of it as a "tax" you pay, so the government can provide social welfare and support to maintain stability, law and order..
Kathy Toth / March 25, 2006 at 05:29 pm
Loblaws is just unreal. I live near the one at Bathurst and St.Clair and i have seen items shoot up in price from week to the next with no reason. Take Brovil. This costs $1.99 everywhere else but at Loblaws it was $2.59. Today it was $2.99. I'm not even going to talk about how salad costs 1,99 a head during the summer or $7.00 my hot house tomatos cost last time. I'm not going to go back there because I end up spending $120 on groceries at time which dont even last two weeks, where as when I go to No Frills, I get more then 3 weeks worth of food at a time.

I havent gone because I dont have a car, otherwise I would not set my foot in the place again. People are extremely rud eat that store, with old forest hills ladies and soccer moms sideswiping you the isles with no regard for anybody else in the store.

If it did not take me 3 hours to make my usual round trip to kensington and no frills at dufferin mall, I'd forget the store altogether.

eric delio / April 2, 2006 at 03:40 pm
I am an employee at the main distribution center for Loblaws. I for one can tell you that outside of some lesser rapini, broccoli, lettuce, grapes and some oranges, all the products at no frills are identical to the stuff we ship to Zehrs, Loblaws, and Fortinos.I originally worked for Fortinos before we were swallowed up by our parent company and since then the quality of how produce is received and shipped has gone in the toilet. The supply chain problems are hurting Loblaws extremely. This time last year or a little longer ago Loblaws stock was valued at 73 bucks a share. In less than 2 years they have had immense loss in value , down to 53 bucks a share with analysts predicting a bottoming out in the 40's before it rebounds. The problem you guys are seeing as consumers is related to the management decisions made buy the John Lederers of the company who took a goldmine created by Richard Currie and Dave Nicholls, and have run it into the ground.
Elizabeth / April 4, 2006 at 12:32 pm
People with snobby attitudes about No Frills can check it -- I've always shopped there, worked there for a year in high school and have never had a problem with bugs, "smelly" people, or peeing children.

If you want to pay a 50 per cent mark-up to feel bougie, that's your hang up.
Camille / April 7, 2006 at 12:59 pm
Well, for starters, I can't believe someone described No Frills shoppers (ie. people with less money) as "riffraff."
Anyway, whether you value saving money vs nicer shopping environment is a personal choice. I much prefer to shop at No Frills, because the money you save really does add up.
However, I'd like to remind people that we live in Toronto - an incredible city for grocery shopping! There's Kensington, Chinatown, St. Lawrence Market, and tons of other neighborhoods that are loaded with fruit and veggie markets (like Bloor West), not to mention many other 'ethnic' markets such as those found in Little Korea and Little Italy. For those who live up north, there's places like T&T, as earlier pointed out, and if you travel into Mississauga, you'll find great clusters of cultural food shops. Sure, proximity and transporation are always issues, but if you're willing to travel a little bit, these places can, at the very least, provide an excellent supplement to your usual No Frills/Loblaws staple.
I personally love the fact that I can save tons of money, and find almost any ingredient that a recipe calls for, because of the awesome shopping possibilities in this city.
If you want more grocery shopping tips, check out my blog post at <a href=http://www.camilledeputter.com>;www.camilledeputter.com</a>.
simon / August 10, 2006 at 11:17 am
Because not everyone shops based on price?

Many people also do not want to drive all over the city to save 1.00 on a head of lettuce. Many older people I have come across prefer to stick to the same grocery store. Even though the products are identical, I cannot imagine a senior fighting it out with families at No Frills and asking for a plastic bag. The money and big profits remain with the Baby Boomers and seniors and Loblaws knows that.

However, I do agree Loblaws is facing some challenges. It seems most of the traffic is leaning towards No Frills or Whole Foods. Being in the middle can lead to being nowhere.

But to answer why people would pay double at Loblaws vs. No Frills...

Not everyone shops based on price.
Susan / November 2, 2006 at 12:39 pm
Has anyone stopped to think about the amount of research that goes into what store should go where? Loblaw Companies actually ownes many differnt platforms/Banners accross Canada and stratigically chooses what store to put in what neighbourhood, based on developement and what else is in the area. If you want the prices of No Frills and the experience of Loablaws try shopping at the newest of the banners "Real Candadian Superstore", mostly located in destination centers thoughout Ontario, Atlantic and Western Canada. They are all shipped from the same warehouses and like any company that undgoes change, you will see the affects in stock price, i.e. Sobeys computer crash a few years ago. People should be free to shop where they can find what they need without judgement of social status or otherwise. Some choose Loblaws because it is close and some choose No Frills because of price. I choose the location by how much I can accomplish in one stop. I have 4 children and as a family we are very busy, therefore the most important factor that I consider in choosing where to shop is time. Why go to No Frills if I only have to turn around and go to Loblaws and Superstore for the rest of my groceries. With the price of gas, are you really saving anything by going to multiple locations? Remember that No Frills are franchise stores and can be different from one store to the next depending on the ower. I'm sure that Loblaws would love to here about the rude staff you have come across, so that corrective measures can be taken, some of these people in all stores are students with ther first job and they may need to be told to smile!
Lynn / August 28, 2007 at 12:20 pm
I for one, don't shop at Loblaws because there is none near me. That said I have stumbled into the odd No Frills or Food Basics if I am driving by and need something basic. Otherwise most of my shopping is done at Asian stores (I am Asian)and ocassionally Pusateri's and Dominion because I am flanked with them. Why do I go to an Asian market that is much further? One because prices are lower than even Food Basics and because my diet is mainly Asian. That said I also love Pusateri's due to their selction of things you just can't find elsewhere. Plus $200 for a turkey that you don't have to make at Christmas is fine by me. They are the only ones I've found who sell aspiration which is a family favourite. The only difference is I don't consider people in No Frills to be riffraff and I absolutely abhore people who unwittingly raise themselves above the crowd.
con / October 26, 2007 at 02:20 pm
Loblaws owns no frills
Dominion owns Food Basics

Its simple economics, playing with the consumer suplus. look it up
Jeffrey / February 17, 2008 at 01:27 am
I absolutely adore "The Real Canadian Superstore" with LOBLAW being on the cutting edge of retail in health n' beauty, fresh foods, fresh produce, financial products, home and lifestyle products, including clothes "JOE"
who wouldn't want to shop at LOBLAW operated stores.

Calgary, Alberta
Jeffrey / February 17, 2008 at 01:29 am
Does anyone here know of any other company that can
bring out great {PC} products on a regular basis that aCtually taste grreat and has great value?

I think not.. dominion? heck no..
that would be Loblaws!
petunia / June 22, 2008 at 02:12 pm
hmm, well people certainly have alot of time on your hands to be talking about Loblaws at 11 o'clock at night..
ha ha
Sarah / August 21, 2008 at 10:22 pm
You really have to pay attention with Loblaws especially with their photolab section. Watch out when you order online. Loblaws ends up double charging. Their employee even admitted to me that there's a glitch in their online system because it doesn't flag to the stores if the order has already been paid. So essentially, Loblaws makes you pay when you order online and then make you pay when you pick it up. Buyer beware for sure!
Meg / November 15, 2008 at 12:08 am
There seems to be a lot of complaining going on without much desire for change. If you receive bad service, tell a supervisor; there are steps department managers are given to resolve the issue, so that whatever has put your particular employee in a bad mood can be addressed. Bitching about it on an online forum or leaving the store cannot yield any results, and will not correct the issue for any other customer.

And yes, it is all the same stuff at No Frills and Loblaws, as LCL has three main branches, two of which are most common: Hard Discount (No Frills - same products, lower price, less variety) and Great Foods (Loblaws, Zehr's, Fortino's - Variety and superior product at a higher price point.) If Loblaws isn't your cup of tea, don't shop there. It's really as simple as that. If you want more variety and higher quality product, it's your one stop shop; if all you're looking for is a good price and don't care as much about selection or quality, No Frills is the place to be.

Research it before you complain about it.
Faith replying to a comment from Hamish Grant / March 26, 2010 at 04:35 pm
Very well said
Tim / June 16, 2010 at 10:23 am
How do I post a photo of a $.01 discount as a sale item?
ann / July 1, 2010 at 08:06 pm
your prices are to high safeway is cheaper your managers don't get payed enough to look after all the people i see stealing in your store on noter dame winnipeg manitoba you need more guards or floor walkers then maybe the prices might come cown to where people might shop at your stores,i have been a good customer for years gut now i go else where
Jambone / January 2, 2011 at 11:41 am
Honestly, anyone that shops at Loblaw’s has money to burn or has not taken the time to compare cost and quality of products between retailers. Sobey's, Metro and there various tier stores offer quality at lower prices and with wide selection of products. As has been previously mentioned all produce that you will find in all retail stores come from the same distribution center. As for manufactured food products for the most part are all the same products with a different label slapped on it like PC, compliments, etc...

Here is another point of interest. Loblaw’s owns in excess of 60% of the retail food market in Canada. Loblaw’s also owns over 50% of the bread market in Canada of which is sold in all Loblaw’s outlets (Weston's Bakery). Bread is a staple in Canada like milk and is generally in every household and generates hundreds of millions of dollars in internal sales for Loblaw’s annually. As a company it treats it vender's (those who supply Loblaw’s with product to sell to consumers) disgracefully and without ethics. Then Loblaw’s insults the Canadian consumer by charging the highest possible prices for 90% percent of the product they sell in Loblaw’s retail outlets which are identical to products available at other retailers Wal-Mart, Metro, Sobey's etc...

Loblaw’s also forces venders to pay a mafia like protection fee which no other retailer in Canada would have the audacity to impose. They call this fee the C.O.G.S. it is a fee that is on top of the cost of manufacturing and agreed upon margins it is simply a service cost to be allowed to have exposure to 60% of the retail market share in Canada. This smacks of a monopoly and is highly uncompetitive practice.

The worst part is that the Canadian consumer never sees the benefit of the cost gauging that Loblaw’s undertakes on its venders, nor can the average consumer get information or see how the Canadian food chain is being manipulated to make Loblaw’s richer and food more unaffordable for some Canadians that can barely afford food to get by. It is simply pocketed.

Buying products from Loblaw’s stores encourages overall higher food prices in Canada. Send a message to Loblaw’s that you know that they are creating a monopoly in Canada and will not accept it. I for one will not be contributing to the uncompetitive business practices of Loblaw’s.
Cookie Roscoe / April 19, 2011 at 02:51 pm
I step into grocery stores these days to buy 100% recycled toilet paper, laundry detergent, and milk. Everything else I get at my local farmers market. My cupboards and fridge are much emptier than they were, but my family of 5 eat WAY better than we did when I spent hours a week going hopelessly up and down aisles trying to find something we wouldn't hate and comparing prices. Yes, it may seem more expensive to shop at markets, but you know your money is going to the pocket it belongs in and you're eating the best possible food imaginable. I save money by throwing so much less away, and, of equal importance as the money I spend or save, I ENJOY shopping now! It's fun to know the people who made the stuff, to eat with the seasons, to discover new tastes every week. I can't imagine stepping back to the old way where I hated the chore of it all the time. Now, food is fun again.
Alex / February 1, 2012 at 06:18 pm
This article is a farce. Prices change every week with specials and adjustments. All retailers of food compete and watch closely only about 500 specific size scu's.
Companies including No Frills, Walmart Costco MAKE THEIR MONEY somewhere. Comparing obsucure items from one banner to another doesn't represent a true picture of who is cheaper.
Petoonia replying to a comment from petunia / November 25, 2014 at 03:45 pm
Hmm well you certainly have too much time on your hands reading and commenting on those comments during work hours. Ha ha.
Karen / November 27, 2015 at 01:37 pm
LOL - No Frills belongs to LOBLAWS!
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