Loblaw boycott to be extended indefinitely

Organizers are extending the month-long boycott of Loblaw stores. Find out for how long. Plus, the door opens wider to a possible interest rate cut, and Scarlett Johansson accuses Chat GPT of ripping off her voice. Fil Martino explains.

By Dilshad Burman

The organizers of a May-long, nationwide boycott of Loblaw brands say they will be extending the boycott indefinitely.

Loblaws is Out of Control posted a statement on Reddit saying community members “voted overwhelmingly” in a poll on the platform to continue refraining from patronizing the grocery chain and its subsidiaries.

Almost 6,300 people participated in the poll, with 3,700 saying the boycott should continue indefinitely and more than 1,900 voting to continue it through the second quarter.

“The community has spoken and shown great support for extending the boycott and remaining focused on Loblaw. We look forward to seeing our impact once Q2 financials are released,” said organizers in the statement.

“This statement reflects the collective determination of a community fed up with the disparity between rising grocery prices and the record profits reported by companies like Loblaw.”

Organizers say they now plan to focus on educating consumers and advocate to draw political attention to the cause.

While it remains unclear if the boycott will have a significant impact on Loblaw’s bottom line, some independent grocery businesses in the GTA have seen an uptick in business in recent weeks.

In addition, a new Leger poll says seven out of 10 Canadians polled said they are aware of the ongoing boycott, and 58 per cent said they support it, while 18 per cent say that they or someone in their household have joined the boycott.

Loblaw has pushed back against criticisms of the company as frustration mounts over food inflation, saying it is not responsible for higher food prices. 

“As a well-known company and Canada’s largest grocer, it is natural that Loblaw would be singled out as a focal point for media and government and of course consumer frustrations,” said Loblaw chairman Galen Weston at the grocer’s annual meeting earlier in May. 

He said the company has been working hard to bring more value to customers through its discount stores, new promotions, and pushing back on supplier price increases.

The Canadian government has been calling on major grocery chains to help stabilize food prices and has been putting pressure on them to sign a grocery code of conduct — an agreement meant to level the playing field in the food industry for suppliers and smaller retailers developed by a group of leaders in the food industry.

Loblaw said last week that it would sign on after months of negotiations with the group.

The grocer had been a high-profile holdout on the code since last December, when it told a House of Commons committee that it was concerned the code could lead to higher prices. 

“The code now is fair, and it will not lead to higher prices,” said Loblaw CEO and president Per Bank last Thursday. He said the company is ready to sign on as long as the other major industry players do too. 

The boycott movement started in November as a sub-Reddit on the social media platform for people to vent their frustrations about rising grocery costs.

Organizers say their following has now grown to more than 100,000 people across various platforms, with the Reddit group alone having 80,000 members.

With files from The Canadian Press

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