Skip to main content

Grocery costs: Why are stores owned by the same companies charging different prices?

The names on the outside are different, but most grocery stores are owned by the same companies  yet CTV News shopped around and found they charge significantly different prices for the same items.

First, we looked at two stores in North Vancouver – owned by industry giant Loblaw – located mere kilometres apart.

At the Superstore on Seymour Boulevard, a large tin of coffee is sold at for $14.99. In contrast, the same thing costs $17.99 at the City Market on Lonsdale Avenue.

We compared several products between these two locations, ensuring they were the same brand and size, and not on sale.

Loblaw’s in-house no-name brand stuffed chicken sells for $0.80 more at City Market than it does at Superstore. Similarly, a box of Raisin Bran is also more expensive.

“Companies are free to price in a way that they think the market will bear,” said Bradley Callaghan of the Competition Bureau, explaining the phenomenon.

“Prices are often important signals of how competition is working.”

In a statement, Loblaw public relations told CTV News its stores are designed to cater to different customer needs. For example, some may offer fewer, more basic goods at lower prices. Others, provide something different, which a spokesperson says may explain why the prices are not the same even if the items are.

“City Market, on the other hand, often has a bigger selection, more specialized products and a number of in-store amenities, which may be reflected in the prices there,” the statement read.

Next we turned to two stores owned by another major chain. Both Safeway and Thifty Foods in North Vancouver are owned by Sobeys Inc.

A large box of in-house brand orange pekoe tea is cheaper at Safeway than at Thrifty Foods $9.99 and $10.49, respectively.

Likewise a large tin of instant coffee sells for $17.99 at Safeway, but $19.79 at Thrifty Foods.

This week, the Competition Bureau released a report into grocery store prices in Canada, and found a lack of competition was leading to higher costs.

Most Canadians buy groceries in stores owned by a handful of grocery giants, with Canada's three largest grocers -- Loblaws, Sobeys, and Metro -- collectively reporting more than $100 billion in sales and $3.6 billion in profits last year, the study found.

Food prices have recorded a massive spike in Canada since November 2021 -- the last month for which grocery inflation was under five per cent.

Since then, grocery prices have consistently risen by close to double digits, peaking at an 11.4 per cent year-over-year price hike last September and again in November before easing somewhat in recent months. Statistics Canada said Tuesday grocery prices rose nine per cent year over year in May.

With files from The Canadian Press. Top Stories

Ontario doctors disciplined over Israel-Gaza protests

A number of doctors are facing scrutiny for publicizing their opinions on the Israel-Hamas war. Critics say expressing their political views could impact patient care, while others say that it is being used as an excuse for censorship.

'No concessions' St-Onge says in $100M a year news deal with Google

The Canadian government has reached a deal with Google over the Online News Act that will see the tech giant pay $100 million annually to publishers, and continue to allow access to Canadian news content on its platform. This comes after Google had threatened to block news on its platform when the contentious new rules come into effect next month.

Live updates

Live updates Hamas frees 10 Israeli women and children, 4 Thai nationals

Ten Israeli women and children and four Thai nationals held captive in Gaza were freed by Hamas, and Israel followed with the release of a group of Palestinian prisoners Thursday. It was the latest exchange of hostages for prisoners under a temporary ceasefire in the Gaza war. Two Russian-Israeli women were also freed by Hamas in a separate release.


opinion Don Martin: With Trudeau resignation fever rising, a Conservative nightmare appears

With speculation rising that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will follow his father's footsteps in the snow to a pre-election resignation, political columnist Don Martin focuses on one Liberal cabinet minister who's emerging as leadership material -- and who stands out as a fresh-faced contrast to the often 'angry and abrasive' leader of the Conservatives.

Stay Connected