Shoppers Drug Mart is no stranger to being called out for exorbitant prices, but a post on the chain's recent "crazy increase" in prices has reignited Canadians' ire for the stores, garnering more than 200 comments on Reddit.
A shopper from Southern Ontario who goes by blessed_angel_7 on Reddit asked users on the social media site if they had noticed shocking price jumps on many items in a short period of time.
“My deodorant that is usually $5.99 regular price a few months ago, has gone up to $10.49,” the poster writes, adding that the item can be purchased on Amazon for $6. “I’ve noticed it on literally every one of their products."
The user blessed_angel_7 said they noticed this at all Loblaw-affiliated stores, which includes Shoppers, Loblaws, Superstore and No Frills, and that they would be "avoiding giving them any sort of support," pledging to drive to nearby towns to shop at other stores.
Customers decry lack of discounts; expert says it's just business
Customers can’t get much of a break when it comes to deals.
On another thread to the Shoppers Drug Mart forum, a poster expresses frustration that the chain’s 20 per cent "Friends and Family" discount, which is meant to apply on most items, now excludes products like milk and bathroom tissue.
This is just after Loblaw caught heat for announcing it would reduce its 50-per-cent off quick-sale section to 30 per cent off, a decision that was quickly rescinded after it sparked an uproar from customers.
David Soberman is a professor of marketing at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. He says retailers have to manage their products in such a way that continues to be profitable for them, especially while facing increases on the manufacturing level. However, if customers aren’t happy with the prices they see on the shelves, they have the choice to shop elsewhere.
“You’re under no obligation to buy from Shoppers or No Frills or Loblaws if you don’t like what they’re doing,” he tells Yahoo Canada.
Soberman adds that there’s been a tradition of holding prices during the holiday season, up until the end of January. While it’s not quite the end of January, he says the pressures of an inflationary environment are somewhat exacerbated.
He adds that if customers are looking for confounding pricing, they are bound to find it, which is why they can always go to another store to compare.
“When you become outraged at the specific price of a product, I think it’s a bit like the Tempest in a Teapot,” Soberman says.
When it comes to the items excluded from the Family and Friends discount at Shoppers, he says it was likely changed as a result of the store losing money from the promotion.
“It’s not that different from a frequent traveller program restricting the dates when you can travel,” he says. “People don’t like it but it’s part and parcel of managing a business.”
Employee begs: 'Can y'all just be nice?'
The price surge is not only having an impact on customers, but also Shoppers employees, according to one who took to Reddit. The user, purindarling, says they are tired and begs for people to be nice to all retail employees.
"I dislike (Loblaws CEO) Galen Weston as much as the next person, but if I have to deal with any more customers yelling at me as if I'm the one who sets the prices, I might lose my mind," they write.
User raspberrylemonade188 concurred, writing: "100% this. I hate Galen as much as the next person, but taking out that frustration on store staff is NOT the vibe. Everyone out there is just trying to make a living, and staff have absolutely no say in pricing."