A Reddit thread that compares the same items sold at Dollarama and Loblaws is inspiring conversation on grocery hacks. But one expert is clarifying that dollar stores aren’t intended to act as a stand-in for supermarkets.
The thread, which was posted in the Toronto subreddit, includes photos of several identical items being sold at Dollarama and Loblaws on the same day, along with the prices.
The items, which include Dipps chocolate covered granola bars ($2 at Dollarama vs. 2 for $5.50 at Loblaws), pasta ($1 vs. $2.19) Coco Pebbles cereal ($2 vs. $5.49), Reese’s Puff cereal ($3.50 vs. 2 for $9) and Heinz tomato soup ($1 vs. $1.79), are usually around half the price at Dollarama, compared to Loblaws.
Many in the comments expressed their bewilderment.
“The cereal one is crazy,” wrote one commentator.
“I always thought Dollarama had smaller boxes for cereals but the (original poster) has done a great effort to match apples with apples,” wrote another.
“Y'know, I'm starting to think that these record profits for Loblaws and the big chains might be related to these price differences,” another added.
One commenter pointed out that grocery stores are charging prices to customers who usually aren’t willing to look for it cheaper elsewhere.
“These stores will charge what people are willing to pay for the product,” wrote the commenter. “They know that most of their customers won't walk a few blocks or have an extra stop on their route to save $1 on pasta. Dollarama doesn't offer one stop grocery shopping, so it's an extra time investment to shop there.”
Y'know, I'm starting to think that these record profits for Loblaws and the big chains might be related to these price differences.Reddit user
David Soberman, a professor at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, concurs.
“Different retailers will charge different prices for similar products and that has to do with the fact that people are loyal to stores so they can price at different levels,” he tells Yahoo News Canada. “A place like Dollarama attracts people who will shop around for the right price. Stores like Loblaws have people who buy whatever they need there.”
Additionally, Dollarama has a limited product line, meaning customers won’t generally find the same item from several different brands. They also won’t always have the same items available all the time, and they stock the exact same products at every store, which could leave a logistical challenge in a shopper’s grocery run.
“I imagine a Loblaws store probably has ten times the number of sku [stock keeping units] than a Dollarama has,” he says.
Another major discrepancy between the dollar store and major grocery stores is that the former doesn’t include fresh produce. So anyone looking to do a grocery shop there won’t get what they need for a well-rounded diet.
However, dollar stores can be an excellent place to pick up household items like cleaning supplies or storage boxes, which will be more expensive elsewhere.
“People who go to dollar stores probably have a list of certain things they like to get there,” Soberman says. “When you use the dollar store like that, it can be a very effective way of economizing.”