Cost of convenience inflates grocery bills

supermarket

Our mock grocery shopping list looked at grocers’ economy brands : bananas, Royal Gala apples, Golden pineapple, cauliflower, yellow onions, mini pumpkin, skinless boneless chicken breast, lean ground beef, plain yogurt, chips, chicken noodle soup, canned corn. (Maria Assaf /Ryersonian Staff).

Students spend upwards of 28 per cent more when shopping at grocery stores that are in Ryerson’s vicinity versus discount stores, according to a test of various prices from nearby grocers conducted by The Ryersonian.

In fact, Ryerson’s campus is surrounded by mostly pricey brand name grocers such as Metro, Loblaws and Sobeys, an issue for many students on tight budgets.

The Ryersonian conducted a mock food shop at four grocery stores to find out where students can get the best deals.

Each shop included 12 staple food items, from economy labels such as Compliments and President’s Choice. Comparing the two on-campus grocers, our bill at Metro was nine per cent more than our bill at Loblaws. The infographic at the top shows the price of our shopping trip at each store.

According to one student, the savings aren’t always enough to walk the few blocks north to Loblaws.

“When I have time I go to Loblaws, but in between classes when I just need to get something right away, the Metro is right there, even though I know it’s more expensive,” says fourth-year arts and contemporary studies student Riley Kucheran.

To combat their high prices, Metro offers a 10 per cent discount to students who can present a student ID on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

For those who actually want to take advantage of economy-level stores, the nearest No Frills is located at Parliament and Carlton Streets, a 15-minute trek from Ryerson.

A Freshco grocery store is only slightly closer at Parliament and Dundas Streets, and while the walk seems daunting, especially to grab a lunchtime snack in- between classes, the savings are nothing to laugh at.

For our shopping trip, Freshco was almost 30 per cent cheaper than Sobeys, interesting considering both stores are owned by Sobeys Inc.

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A representative from the company told us stores like Freshco are not full-service, meaning they don’t offer extras like an on-site bakery, deli or butcher.

Without these added services, the store is able to pass the savings along to customers.

Dundas and Parliament Frescho co-owner Omar Halababi says, “Stores base their prices on the demographics of the area and how much people are willing to spend.”

Ryerson retail geography expert Joseph Aversa agrees, and says condo residents and white-collar jobs in the area are the reason for Ryerson’s brand name grocery monopoly.

Ryerson’s campus is nestled in the Church and Yonge corridor. It’s an area where about 30 per cent of households make $100,000 or more in annual income and pay an average of $1,000 a month in rent, according to the Statistics Canada 2006 census.

“These are the type of people that live and work in an urban setting and have very on-the-go lifestyles,” Aversa says. “They would take advantage of ready-made meals, something that isn’t available at discount format stores.”

The price point advantages of economy grocers such as No Frills or Freshco are apparent, but it remains unclear whether students will leave campus to save a little green.

Kenzie Pulsifer, a fourth-year psychology student, says she would walk to Freshco only if she was going for a particularly big shopping trip.

“I choose convenience most of the time because I’m really busy,” Pulsifer says. “I’m usually rushing to work or school.”

Groceries final

Our mock grocery shopping list looked at grocers’ economy brands : bananas, Royal Gala apples, Golden pineapple, cauliflower, yellow onions, mini pumpkin, skinless boneless chicken breast, lean ground beef, plain yogurt, chips, chicken noodle soup, canned corn. (Maria Assaf/Ryersonian Staff).

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