Loblaw rolls back discount slash

A sketch showing a pack of sausages, marked 50 per cent off and cancelled, then 30 per cent off and cancelled, and finally 1 per cent off.
1 per cent off and it will likely turn into toxic waste before your return bus gets you home. OpenClipart-Vectors via Pixabay, manipulated by lee lim

Billionaires rethink decision to milk even more money from consumers  

Last week Canada’s leading food and pharmacy suppliers, Loblaw Cos. Ltd., announced they would no longer offer 50 per cent discounts on food nearing the expiration or best before date. According to an email circulated by Loblaw, the company stated it would replace all 50 per cent off discounts with 30 per cent off discounts on products near expiring or reaching their best before date.  

The announcement raised concerns for Canadians and experts alike across the country. Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, the director of Dalhousie University’s Agri-food Analytics lab warns this change warrants the attention of Canada’s Competition Bureau. Charlebois believes the attempted change taken by the grocery chain to align its policies with other food retailers could be considered anti-competitive behaviour.  

In an email from Loblaw to Charlebois, spokesperson Catherine Thomas claimed the company was moving away from offering a range of discounts in favour of “a more predictable and consistent offering, including more consistency with our competitors.” In a column for the Toronto Sun, Charlebois writes, “If this is not collusion, it certainly appears to be very close to it,” detailing practices such as “discount fixing”. 

In fact, the attempted strategy employed by Loblaw has a name – conscious parallelism. Conscious parallelism refers to the ability of competitors to watch what others are doing in order to adapt their own business structure to copy them. According to Dr. Jennifer Quiad, an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa, it is not an illegal practice. “The fact that you watch what’s going on in the market and copy your competitors is not a criminal collaboration because there’s no decision to get together and do something.” 

Outraged Canadians across the country spoke against Loblaw’s announcement. Viral TikToker Bryan, also known as @thebnoth, described Loblaw’s actions as “first ballot hall fame of Scrooge Mcduckery right here.” Bryan asked, “How morally bankrupt do you have to be to sit in a board room and go, ‘You know what’s really selling like hot cakes now adays? That discount meat that’s hours away from turning into nuclear waste. People are buying it a lot more these days than they used to. I feel like this is a money-making opportunity.’”  

Similarly, disgruntled Canadians took to Facebook to share their anger. One Facebook user stated, “Coming from a company that made [$605-million] last quarter I am gobsmacked…Now I will be 50 [per cent] less happy with the corporate greed. Come on Loblaws give 100 [per cent] at being a better corporate citizen. Rant done.”  

In the wake of Canadians’ backlash to Loblaw’s announcement, Loblaw announced it had decided against getting rid of its 50 per cent off stickers on expiring food. Thomas confirmed on January 19 that after hearing the feedback from customers and colleagues the company will continue its previous discounting practices.  

Canadians had a lot to say about this too. X user @angns said, “Well that boycott didn’t last long! Loblaws has reversed the decision to stop 50 [per cent] stickers on certain items. Don’t get me wrong, they still suck but this is a great decision for consumers. They must have read my tweet.”  

Despite the decision to reverse the attempted change, Loblaw’s original actions left a sour taste in Canadian mouths. Literally. Many are wondering what’s next in corporate action set on making Canadians pay. 


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