Reimagining the Weekly Shop: Canadian Grocery Today and Tomorrow

By Andre-Philippe Hardy and Irene Nattel
Published April 28, 2022 | 17 min listen

Significant structural changes are occurring in the Canadian grocery space. This podcast explores the key factors that influence consumer choice of food retailer, how consumers are dealing with the rising pace of food price inflation, the rise of online grocery offerings, and how the shifts in consumer/retailer interactions will change how we buy groceries.

Disclosures and Disclaimers

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E-grocery: From inflection to entrenched

COVID-19 marked an inflection point in how Canadians approach shopping for food. Increasingly we are moving to a world of flexible shopping patterns and last mile solutions. The results of our recent consumer survey on Canadian food shopping behaviour indicate that although consumers continue to overwhelmingly buy food in-store, COVID shutdowns were the trigger for a surge in online grocery.  Consumers like the flexibility of being able to buy what they want, how and when they want it.  Our survey respondents are largely satisfied with the e-grocery experience, and intend to keep buying groceries online. 


Rapidly rising food prices are causing changes in consumer shopping behaviours

Consumers are acutely aware of rapidly accelerating food prices, and are responding by actively seeking value in their baskets: shopping around for best deals, whether by switching channels, banner or brands, paying more attention to weekly flyers, buying more private label products, and limiting the buying of food away from home, both in restaurants and with take-out.


Loyalty programs: Digital interactions are key

The digital realm is becoming increasingly important in the decision chain for Canadian food shoppers. Consumers are also placing increasing emphasis on the value of loyalty programs, with 85% of food shoppers we surveyed noting that loyalty programs influence the choice of grocer in both bricks and mortar and online, and consumers overwhelmingly finding relevance in weekly targeted promotions. And increasingly, consumers are accessing promotions digitally, with less than one-quarter of consumers remaining loyal to the static, one-size-fits-all printed weekly flyer.


Combining physical spaces and digital tools

Although freshness and value remain fundamental to the food shopping journey, consumers are looking to combine both physical spaces and digital tools in a seamless way to address various need states, with the most successful retailers being those who can engage with consumers on a personal, emotional level.

André-Philippe HardyCanadian Consumer SectorE-commerceFood RetailFood Shopping BehaviorIndustries in MotionIrene NattelRBC Imagine

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