Financial results from Canada’s three largest grocers offered a clearer idea of how the COVID-19 crisis has changed shopping habits—and how consumers are responding now that public health restrictions are being eased.
Metro Inc.’s third-quarter earnings, reported Wednesday, largely mirrored results posted earlier this summer by competitors Empire Co. Ltd. and Loblaw Companies Ltd.
At the onset of the pandemic, all three saw sales soar as shoppers stockpiled essentials, prompting shortages of things like flour and toilet paper. Many Canadians also opted for conventional full-service grocery stores rather than discount supermarkets and bought more items per visit as part of a one-stop-shop effort to reduce their grocery trips.
But the opposite trend is now emerging amid vaccinations and falling infection rates.
Metro, Loblaw and Empire all noted an increase in traffic in their stores in recent quarters, but smaller basket sizes and more muted sales. They also noted a gradual return to discount grocery stores as an increasing number of shoppers sought out promotions over simply convenience.