Shopping Discussion

Does Anyone See The Point of FreshCo?

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TravellingChris wrote: Sobeys is busily converting full-service Safeway (and to a lesser extent, Sobeys) supermarkets in Western Canada to its FreshCo brand. The problem is that when they convert the store, they are removing the main reasons that consumers choose one of the Sobeys group supermarkets over a competitor: the full-service departments and Air Miles. I've always liked Safeway's bakery: that's gone when FreshCo takes over a Safeway. Our family avidly collects Air Miles: FreshCo doesn't participate.

What I fail to understand is what is supposed to bring me to FreshCo? What am I getting there that I can't get anywhere else? No Frills is the dominant retailer in the hard discount format. If I'm already shopping at No Frills (which already covers Western Canada pretty well) why would I switch? And if I'm a Safeway shopper at a store that is becoming FreshCo, why would I stay a customer of that location when all the reasons I shopped there are now removed?
I think you missed the point that FreshCo is Empire's competition to No Frills (and Food Basics in Eastern Canada). I'm guessing that Safeway is underperforming compared to their competitors, which have an option for value oriented shoppers - which No Frills (and Superstore) offers, compared to Safeway. Sure, they might alienate some of their customer base, looking for a full service grocery store, but they're likely going to be able to capture a larger market segment by going after consumers looking for value.
TravellingChris wrote: What I really don't understand is FreshCo's refusal to participate in Air Miles. I understand it in terms of cost to the retailer, but in the absence of being able to earn or redeem AM at FreshCo, why would I go there as a shopper? I can earn PC Optimum points at No Frills (on featured products) as well as redeem them, so that's a factor in helping me to choose that store. So why would anyone choose FreshCo?
The customers FreshCo are targeting probably aren't looking for the value add from Air Miles, it comes down to the receipt prices at the end of the day. The low prices are what FreshCo is looking for, Air Miles doesn't necessarily offer that. There might also be agreements in place preventing Air Miles from being offered at FreshCo, even if the company wanted to do so (and I really doubt that).
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zappy312 wrote: I think you missed the point that FreshCo is Empire's competition to No Frills (and Food Basics in Eastern Canada). I'm guessing that Safeway is underperforming compared to their competitors, which have an option for value oriented shoppers - which No Frills (and Superstore) offers, compared to Safeway. Sure, they might alienate some of their customer base, looking for a full service grocery store, but they're likely going to be able to capture a larger market segment by going after consumers looking for value.
Safeway was a leader in the West with a very loyal customer base and amazing customer service. Empire came in, bought it, and f'ed it up to the point of no return.. they're still trying to recover.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report- ... e32535797/

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TravellingChris wrote: Sobeys is busily converting full-service Safeway (and to a lesser extent, Sobeys) supermarkets in Western Canada to its FreshCo brand. The problem is that when they convert the store, they are removing the main reasons that consumers choose one of the Sobeys group supermarkets over a competitor: the full-service departments and Air Miles. I've always liked Safeway's bakery: that's gone when FreshCo takes over a Safeway. Our family avidly collects Air Miles: FreshCo doesn't participate.

What I fail to understand is what is supposed to bring me to FreshCo? What am I getting there that I can't get anywhere else? No Frills is the dominant retailer in the hard discount format. If I'm already shopping at No Frills (which already covers Western Canada pretty well) why would I switch? And if I'm a Safeway shopper at a store that is becoming FreshCo, why would I stay a customer of that location when all the reasons I shopped there are now removed?

What I really don't understand is FreshCo's refusal to participate in Air Miles. I understand it in terms of cost to the retailer, but in the absence of being able to earn or redeem AM at FreshCo, why would I go there as a shopper? I can earn PC Optimum points at No Frills (on featured products) as well as redeem them, so that's a factor in helping me to choose that store. So why would anyone choose FreshCo?

I'm also puzzled by the corporate strategy: many of the Safeways being converted are near Save-on-Foods. This means that anyone who still wants a store with an on-site bakery, deli, etc. is simply going to go down the street to Save-on when FreshCo takes over.
Doesn’t Freshco now accept Air Miles? Just had a cashier mention it to me, but I coulda sworn he was wrong.
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Feb 7, 2017
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r3ddrag0nx wrote: Doesn’t Freshco now accept Air Miles? Just had a cashier mention it to me, but I coulda sworn he was wrong.
Nothing on the FreshCo website
And haven’t seen any announcement from AirMiles

Most likely with all the SOBEY’s Group Stores closing & converting chains to FreshCo
The employee came from one of the Sobeys Chains that did accept AMs
And he just asked as he forgot where he now worked

Cashier jobs are repetitive actions
After a while it’s so automatic … you could almost do it asleep
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Kuurgen wrote: One of my beefs (pun intended) with Frescho is their move to selling meat "by the tray".
Instead of it being x dollars per kilogram, they prepackage meat in varying weights and mark the tray at a fixed price.
So every tray in the display will be $6. One tray I checked of ground hamburger was 380 grams at $6
I am seeing a lot of retailers moving to this model.
Safeway has been doing that with its house brand of cheese for years. Blocks of varying weights between $7 and $9, with a pink "$6.99 special offer" sticker that's on every one. The "special" offer has been running continuously for at least 20 years. It's kind of fun acting like a bricklayer and moving the entire inventory around to find the heaviest ones.
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Kiraly wrote: Safeway has been doing that with its house brand of cheese for years. Blocks of varying weights between $7 and $9, with a pink "$6.99 special offer" sticker that's on every one. The "special" offer has been running continuously for at least 20 years. It's kind of fun acting like a bricklayer and moving the entire inventory around to find the heaviest ones.
Walmart has been doing it for some time too. Now more recently Superstore is doing the same thing. Neither show the actual weight so it's difficult to find the heaviest brick. [Maybe that's a provincial difference.] Regardless, this gambit just lets the stores charge a higher per kilo price to the innumerates in their customer base.
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bylo wrote: Walmart has been doing it for some time too. Now more recently Superstore is doing the same thing. Neither show the actual weight so it's difficult to find the heaviest brick. [Maybe that's a provincial difference.] Regardless, this gambit just lets the stores charge a higher per kilo price to the innumerates in their customer base.
All packaged food products must display the weight. Federal regulation.
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Aug 14, 2007
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PointsHubby wrote: It’s not just in the West …
Sobey’s Group is restructuring throughout Ontario too

Here they are closing many of their Sobeys chains to convert them to either FreshCos or Farm Boys

Both of these chains are “niche markets” one on the lower end … and one on the higher end

I think it personally ridiculous that this is their strategy vs offering a full service middle of the road store … which Sobeys was … to go head to head with other full service stores in the market (here they would be the likes of Loblaws, Your Independent, Metro )

I have been a long time fan of Farm Boy … they started here in Eastern Ontario in Cornwall … so been shopping with them for decades

But they are a niche … mostly fresh foods. So as such I cannot do all my shopping there. I still need all the middle aisles that a conventional grocery store offers.

FreshCo isn’t for me either. I am not a big fan of Discount Grocers … cuz I value my fresh goods … like an instore Bakery, Deli etc. We are not folks who buy prepackaged white bread … or deli meats. We just don’t like them. We much prefer fresh.

So I visited FreshCo once … it just wasn’t for me.

Lol, what closing out Sobeys has actually done for me … is see me spend more of my grocery dollars at both Loblaws Group & Metro Inc stores … which has actually worked out well. In that I am earning way more points / miles than ever before (Metro even gives base miles on beer & wine purchases) … and I think Metro which has always been # 3 in Canada has figured this out … cuz they seem to have really upped their game in their mainstream stores of late … with more choices, better sales, more AMs promos etc. I would say they are STEALING MARKET SHARE from Sobeys !!!

We’ve always been strategic shoppers … but we appreciate a one stop shop mainstream store. So this week I figure the best deals for us are at Metro that’s where I am heading. Next week it could be Loblaws, Sobeys, Independent, or IGA Quebec if I also happen to be in the Neighbourhood. We aren’t brand loyal.

Now if the likes of Farm Boy offered AirMiles … I would be all over that. I could easily plan my groceries around one week fresh, and next week dry goods.

But no news of that ever happening … anymore than the PCO Lovers in the big cities seeing T&T coming onboard that program which so many PCOers wish for.

My sister lives out west. She loves Safeway. The gutting of Safeway is sad. I think you Westerners have it far worse than us Easterners as Sobeys is making so many of the stores into FreshCos … when the quality / similarities are definitely gone.

That’s one thing I think is pretty awful out west that I saw … outside of the bigger cities (even in suburbia) choice is far more limited than it is here in the east for mainstream grocery stores.

Whole lot of Discount Grocers, fewer mainstreams, and a sprinkling of RCSS (few & far between) in the mix. I think I would hate grocery shopping if I lived west of Ontario. At least down east … Sobeys Group still has a good number of Sobeys stores (Sobeys HQ being in Atlantic Canada)

Don’t know the answer …

But the west is IMO being robbed of choice.

Question … Are Sobeys even building mainstream grocery stores out west these days ?
I know they seem to have stopped doing so in Ontario
Their new focus now is these conversions … or building more Farm Boys mostly
Sobey's owns Farm Boy? I had no idea...

I haven't shopped at a sobeys or freshco in a long long time. I always hear people say Loblaws is very expensive, but I usually always found that the sobeys closest to me was far more expensive than Loblaws. Only thing I go to farmboy for is sausages and vegetables. Everything else is Costco or loblaws for the most part.
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Oct 13, 2007
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TravellingChris wrote: Sobeys is busily converting full-service Safeway (and to a lesser extent, Sobeys) supermarkets in Western Canada to its FreshCo brand. The problem is that when they convert the store, they are removing the main reasons that consumers choose one of the Sobeys group supermarkets over a competitor: the full-service departments and Air Miles. I've always liked Safeway's bakery: that's gone when FreshCo takes over a Safeway. Our family avidly collects Air Miles: FreshCo doesn't participate.

What I fail to understand is what is supposed to bring me to FreshCo? What am I getting there that I can't get anywhere else? No Frills is the dominant retailer in the hard discount format. If I'm already shopping at No Frills (which already covers Western Canada pretty well) why would I switch? And if I'm a Safeway shopper at a store that is becoming FreshCo, why would I stay a customer of that location when all the reasons I shopped there are now removed?

What I really don't understand is FreshCo's refusal to participate in Air Miles. I understand it in terms of cost to the retailer, but in the absence of being able to earn or redeem AM at FreshCo, why would I go there as a shopper? I can earn PC Optimum points at No Frills (on featured products) as well as redeem them, so that's a factor in helping me to choose that store. So why would anyone choose FreshCo?

I'm also puzzled by the corporate strategy: many of the Safeways being converted are near Save-on-Foods. This means that anyone who still wants a store with an on-site bakery, deli, etc. is simply going to go down the street to Save-on when FreshCo takes over.
Safeway is a dead brand in Canada. It’s a U.S. retailer so the name under Sobey’s meant nothing. The Safeway stores are often old and not updated. Having the same prices and deals at both stores do not benefit Sobey’s.

Just went to a grand opening in Edmonton of a converted Safeway. It is very nice, bright and spacious. They had a coupon offer for $5 off $35 and were also giving out the green plastic totes.

It does promote more competition by having that extra store brand there with different prices, not a Sobey’s/Safeway combined price.

They also price match which is I what I did with a Walmart flyer and no issues.

As a side note, I bought a bunch of bananas. Don’t know what happened, the price/kg. on the receipt was correct but my total was $0.01.
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Kiraly wrote: All packaged food products must display the weight. Federal regulation.
That's what I thought too. But I wasn't able to find it at Superstore. Maybe I didn't read the fine print ;)

Nevertheless I suspect that even if you find the heaviest brick in the pile, the price per kilo will still be greater than the same item that's priced in the conventional way.
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bylo wrote: That's what I thought too. But I wasn't able to find it at Superstore. Maybe I didn't read the fine print ;)

Nevertheless I suspect that even if you find the heaviest brick in the pile, the price per kilo will still be greater than the same item that's priced in the conventional way.
The product is ordinary medium white cheddar. You'd think that that would be an easy product to find, but it isn't. In fact Safeway is the only place in all of Vancouver that I can find this product. Every other white (not dyed) cheddar is either extra aged, and/or artisanal type in the deli section that is at least double the price.
[OP]
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starchoice wrote: Safeway is a dead brand in Canada. It’s a U.S. retailer so the name under Sobey’s meant nothing. The Safeway stores are often old and not updated. Having the same prices and deals at both stores do not benefit Sobey’s.

Just went to a grand opening in Edmonton of a converted Safeway. It is very nice, bright and spacious. They had a coupon offer for $5 off $35 and were also giving out the green plastic totes.

It does promote more competition by having that extra store brand there with different prices, not a Sobey’s/Safeway combined price.

They also price match which is I what I did with a Walmart flyer and no issues.

As a side note, I bought a bunch of bananas. Don’t know what happened, the price/kg. on the receipt was correct but my total was $0.01.
If Safeway is a dead brand in Canada, it's because Sobeys ran it into the ground. After the acquisition there were major stock shortages, the removal of favourite brands and programs (like the Safeway Club Card) and an overall decline in quality. The transaction was so botched that by 2016 Sobeys had written off half the $5.8 billion value of the Safeway operation and the parent company lost nearly a billion dollars ($943 million) IN A SINGLE QUARTER. Yeah, these guys are shrewd operators.

The underlying point is that No Frills is already well-established. It's dominant in the small discount supermarket format. FreshCo is arriving very late to the party. And the johnny-come-lately almost never makes it in Canada: Target (arrived in Canada 19 years after Walmart), Sam's Club (20 years after Costco), Lowe's (continues to struggle against market leader Home Depot even after buying RONA), HBC's Designer Depot (killed by format pioneer Winners), HBC's Home Outfitters (killed by Bed Bath & Beyond).
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TravellingChris wrote: Sobeys is busily converting full-service Safeway (and to a lesser extent, Sobeys) supermarkets in Western Canada to its FreshCo brand. The problem is that when they convert the store, they are removing the main reasons that consumers choose one of the Sobeys group supermarkets over a competitor: the full-service departments and Air Miles. I've always liked Safeway's bakery: that's gone when FreshCo takes over a Safeway. Our family avidly collects Air Miles: FreshCo doesn't participate.

What I fail to understand is what is supposed to bring me to FreshCo? What am I getting there that I can't get anywhere else? No Frills is the dominant retailer in the hard discount format. If I'm already shopping at No Frills (which already covers Western Canada pretty well) why would I switch? And if I'm a Safeway shopper at a store that is becoming FreshCo, why would I stay a customer of that location when all the reasons I shopped there are now removed?

What I really don't understand is FreshCo's refusal to participate in Air Miles. I understand it in terms of cost to the retailer, but in the absence of being able to earn or redeem AM at FreshCo, why would I go there as a shopper? I can earn PC Optimum points at No Frills (on featured products) as well as redeem them, so that's a factor in helping me to choose that store. So why would anyone choose FreshCo?

I'm also puzzled by the corporate strategy: many of the Safeways being converted are near Save-on-Foods. This means that anyone who still wants a store with an on-site bakery, deli, etc. is simply going to go down the street to Save-on when FreshCo takes over.
I don't know about the Western Freshco's but here in the GTA the stores are big on ETHNIC dry goods and produce such as Caribbean, Indian and Middle East. They do better with this than the other discount brands here. And I think I saw a report that some of the Freshco's her are being rebranded to appeal more directly to certain ethnic communities.
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sunnysidesolutions wrote: I agree with you OP.
On top of all the other things that suck about FreshCo, they also do not take AMEX.
Not sure if you’re in Western Canada, but here in Ontario FreshCo has begun to take AMEX. This includes CHALO FreshCo. If you find that a cashier says that they don’t take AMEX it’s probably because they just don’t know they do. I’ve also had cashiers not understand that AMEX means American Express, which is what their computer states as a payment option, so make sure to specify American Express.
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OP, I understand where you’re coming from, FreshCo really isn’t my jam. The stores are kind of lame and I prefer Food Basics or No Frills over FreshCo since both have better selection.

However, the days of mid-tier full service grocers like Loblaws, Metro, Sobeys, and Safeway are coming to an end. With high food inflation, stagnant wages, customers are much more price conscious. Plus retailers have done an excellent job at reducing the quality of their full service brands, so much so that the price premium charged isn’t good value for money (Loblaw is the worst for this, Zehrs doesn’t offer good in store products anymore and are selling often the same things as No Frills just at a higher cost). Companies have seen that discontinuing services like an in store bakery and to go meals doesn’t affect customer levels, and when you can cut labour costs in half, it’s a no brainer why Sobeys is killing off their Safeway brand.

Expect to see a slow decline in middle of the road full service supermarkets in favour of either specialty stores like Farm Boy or discount grocers like FreshCo. This kind of mid-tier grocery store won’t be completely gone in the future, but there would probably be only one or two per geographical area. For example, in the west SaveOnFoods would be the only mid-tier full service grocer, for southwestern Ontario it would be Zehrs and Sobeys, Metro and Loblaws for Ottawa, just Metro for Scarborough, and Loblaws and Metro for the rest of Toronto proper. In the case of Scarborough, this has already happened (there are no Loblaws locations in the former city, not even a Sobeys).

The market appears to be disinterested in the middle ground nowadays and wants specialty stores (why else has Nordstrom and Simons grown, while Sears and HBC die?). This extends to grocery stores.

Also, I know I’ve gone on about this too much, but expect to see the Sobeys brand be discounted in the GTA. Empire (Sobeys’ parent) has just bought the successful Longo’s brand who has a much better footprint in the GTA. Given that Longo’s has better locations, a more respected brand, and better locations compared to Sobeys, it doesn’t make sense to keep the Sobeys brand around. Especially since Sobeys and Longo’s are around the same price. Sobeys expanded their brand across the country because they wanted to be big like Loblaws, but unlike Loblaws, they have no idea how to run grocery stores outside of Atlantic Canada. Poor acquisitions like Oshawa Group (who got them into Ontario but, at the same time, gave them some pretty bad locations in Toronto) and the Safeway failure have taught Empire that the best way to expand is to buy successful companies and just let them run the show. Had Empire bought Safeway and left them alone, while discontinuing their Sobeys portfolio in the west and replacing it with FreshCo, they would have made so much more money.

Don’t break what works.
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XtremeModder wrote: Sobey's owns Farm Boy? I had no idea...

I haven't shopped at a sobeys or freshco in a long long time. I always hear people say Loblaws is very expensive, but I usually always found that the sobeys closest to me was far more expensive than Loblaws. Only thing I go to farmboy for is sausages and vegetables. Everything else is Costco or loblaws for the most part.
That’s my general observation as well.
Say I was to go in with a list of what I were to eat any given week.
(Sobeys dry goods / middle of the store aisle items are definitely higher priced )

BUT … I don’t shop like that
I am a strategic shopper … so am just buying primarily what’s on sale / promo
Knowing my item prices and hitting the mark consistently between LOW & MEDIUM
(in the L-M-H Price Cycle)
Stocking up to fill out the gaps in the fridge, freezer, & pantry

PC+ Loblaws Group Stores tend to be my first go to store (cheapest overall )
So if I should find myself run out of something …
Last minute shopping for a missing ingredient
They are my go to for sure
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Dealmaker1945 wrote:
I don't know about the Western Freshco's but here in the GTA the stores are big on ETHNIC dry goods and produce such as Caribbean, Indian and Middle East. They do better with this than the other discount brands here. And I think I saw a report that some of the Freshco's her are being rebranded to appeal more directly to certain ethnic communities.
jacnel wrote: Not sure if you’re in Western Canada, but here in Ontario FreshCo has begun to take AMEX. This includes CHALO FreshCo. If you find that a cashier says that they don’t take AMEX it’s probably because they just don’t know they do. I’ve also had cashiers not understand that AMEX means American Express, which is what their computer states as a payment option, so make sure to specify American Express.
Haven’t seen a CHALO FreshCo yet … definitely curious
Website says they are primarily a GTA and Western Canada Big City thing right now
(Nothing EAST of Brampton )
https://chalofreshco.com/store-locator/

As to AMEX … Sobeys Group & Metro Inc Stores both take it … as they & AMEX are all part of the AirMiles Program

Annoys me to no end that PC+ Loblaws Group does not
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Oct 23, 2017
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PointsHubby wrote: Haven’t seen a CHALO FreshCo yet … definitely curious
Website says they are primarily a GTA and Western Canada Big City thing right now
(Nothing EAST of Brampton )
https://chalofreshco.com/store-locator/

As to AMEX … Sobeys Group & Metro Inc Stores both take it … as they & AMEX are all part of the AirMiles Program

Annoys me to no end that PC+ Loblaws Group does not
Brampton has a large concentration of South Asian folks and "Chalo" is a word that appears in some languages of the Indian sub-continent. So we are talking stores aimed at this demographic, which has lots of younger large families that buy a lot of groceries. No doubt, Freshco wants some of that money being spent at Indian and Pakistani stores. Even the normal Freshco's here carry a lot of Indo-Pak oriented goods.

I would expect Chalo Freshco's to appear in Surrey, which might be the Brampton of BC.
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jacnel wrote:
Not sure if you’re in Western Canada, but here in Ontario FreshCo has begun to take AMEX. This includes CHALO FreshCo. If you find that a cashier says that they don’t take AMEX it’s probably because they just don’t know they do. I’ve also had cashiers not understand that AMEX means American Express, which is what their computer states as a payment option, so make sure to specify American Express.
PointsHubby wrote: As to AMEX … Sobeys Group & Metro Inc Stores both take it … as they & AMEX are all part of the AirMiles Program
Yah, FreshCo still does not take AMEX in BC.
Even the FAQ page on their own website says https://freshco.com/faq/
"What payment methods do you accept?
We accept VISA, MasterCard, Interac, and Cash at all of our stores."
They explicitly do not list AMEX here because it's not accepted at all stores Disappointed But Relieved Face
[OP]
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Jul 7, 2019
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Oilers Country
We checked out one of the new Edmonton FreshCos tonight. It's not a CHALO! FreshCo but it has a very strong assortment of Middle Eastern, Lebanese and Indian foods. (Nice to see the legendary Parle-G biscuits!) However, the store layout is bizarre (cereal and pancake syrup are located by the cleaning products) and a far cry from the selection and quality of the Safeway it replaced.

Yes, the prices were better than Safeway and Sobeys' regular prices. That's what we would expect. But only a fool fills a cart full of regular-priced items at Safeway. You stock up when items are on sale: e.g. you don't buy Delissio pizza at Safeway regular price of 5.99 or 6.99, you buy ten when the price is 2.94 (as it was last week). AND you earn Air Miles on top of that. The point is you're only going to come out ahead at FreshCo if you were previously shopping Safeway at full-price and Air Miles don't matter to you.

A few items we noticed: Compliments Scotch Mints 700g at 3.99 versus 4.29 at Safeway, Peek Freans cookies 1.97 (just saw them at Shoppers for 1.99), Nestle After Eight 300g 5.97 (currently 3.97 at my local No Frills), Liberte Classique yogourt 650g 2.97 (currently on sale at 2/4.00 at our nearby Safeway and it's buy 4 get 50 Air Miles).

The one phenomenal deal was getting a close-dated Apple Valley pie 550g regular 2.97 stickered for 2.00 off. But obviously that kind of thing would be hit and miss.

Overall I don't see them shaking things up much in this market.

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