Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday February 2, 2023
Loblaw ends No Name price freeze, vows ‘flat’ pricing ‘wherever possible’
Loblaw will not be extending its price freeze on No Name brand products, but vows to keep the yellow label product-pricing flat “wherever possible.”
“The more than three-month price freeze ends January 31 — but we’re not done,” a Loblaw spokesperson said in an email to CTV News Monday. “Looking ahead, we’ll continue to hold those prices flat wherever possible, and switching to No Name will still save the average family thousands this year.”
Loblaw announced in mid-October it would freeze prices for 1,500 products sold under its No Name private label. At the time, Loblaw chairman and president Galen G. Weston said the price of an average basket of groceries was up about 10 per cent, something he said was much out of Loblaw’s control.
The Canadian retailer noted Monday, food inflation has continued to increase, costing the company more to stock shelves.
The country’s inflation rate slowed again in December 2022 to 6.3 per cent. However, Statistics Canada said grocery prices were up 11 per cent for the month compared to the year before. This was down a tick from November’s 11.4 per cent.
Canada’s grocery chains have been under fire for making steady profits amid high inflation. Third-quarter profits at Loblaw Companies Ltd rose nearly 30 per cent compared to a year ago. Quebec grocery giant Metro Inc. reported a first-quarter profit of about 11 per cent. (CTV)
Canada’s largest grocer is stepping up its public relations strategy to convince people that it is not to blame for higher prices. But experts say consumers grappling with food affordability are in no mood to hear that message.
On the day that its 11-week price freeze on No Name products ended on Tuesday, Loblaw Cos. Ltd. -0.13% decrease was active on Twitter, responding to people who criticized the company with messages explaining that “food inflation is a global issue” and that price increases were the fault of suppliers who had themselves raised prices. Other Loblaw tweets heralded the price freeze for helping consumers “at a time they needed it most.”
But the defensive tone didn’t sit well with many, and is emblematic of a larger communications challenge facing Canada’s grocery retailers, who have reported significant increases in both sales and profits amid inflation. As the last point of contact in a sprawling supply chain, grocers have been a target for shoppers’ understandable anger over the affordability of basic necessities. (The Globe & Mail)
Thank you Bryan Trussler for the inspiration for this cartoon.