loblaws boycott

Loblaw profits are way up again as shoppers embark on month-long boycott

On the first day of a month-long boycott that thousands of customers have planned against its stores, Loblaw Companies Ltd. has released a new financial update — and the money has, as one would expect, been rolling in.

According to the numbers, the supermarket behemoth saw profits climb another 9.8 per cent in the first few months of this year (compared to the same time last year), meaning that it is able to pay out a whopping 15 per cent more to its shareholders in dividends.

In total, revenue across all Loblaw's brands during the first quarter of 2024 was a staggering $13.58 billion (up from $13 billion in Q1 2023), with the largest jump in sales coming from online sales (up 16.1 per cent) and pharmacy and healthcare services (up 7.3 per cent).

(This is especially interesting given that the conglomerate has been under fire for allegedly asking pharmacists working under its Shoppers Drug Mart banner to meet performance targets for OHIP-billed services that can earn them up to $75 of government money for a brief phone call — more than the Province pays family doctors for in-person visits.)

Its operating income for the period was 12 per cent higher year-over-year, and, perhaps most enragingly for consumers, its retail segment gross profit percentage — in other words, its gross profit margin — was 31.6 per cent, which the company noted marked "an increase of 30 basis points, primarily driven by improvements in drug retail gross margins."

In its release of the data Wednesday morning, Loblaw said that it "began 2024 with another quarter of strong operational and financial results" thanks to "a focus on retail excellence" that has led to "sales growth, reductions in shrink, and earnings growth."

It also noted an increase in store traffic, and also its larger footprint of supermarkets thanks to capital investments of a whopping $348 million. (Meanwhile, suppliers have spoken out with claims that they somehow get charged for Loblaw's store renovations.)

"We continued to deliver value, quality and service across our various banners, which led to more customers choosing our stores," added Per Bank, the new president and CEO of Loblaw, in the release titled "Loblaw 2024 First Quarter Results Reflect Continued Focus on Providing Everyday Value to Customers.

"Our dedicated colleagues, strategic plan and unique assets position us well to best serve the needs of Canadians today and in the future."

With the boycott in mind, the chain has reiterated numerous times that it's been trying to keep any price hikes under the overall rate of food inflation in Canada.

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