Is It Becoming Socially Acceptable to Steal From Price-Gouging Grocery Stores?

A recent increase in social media users announcing that they have been shoplifting from Canadian grocery stores has caused concern in the retail industry.

Consumers are becoming increasingly frustrated as grocery prices rise far beyond the rate of inflation while corporate giants pull in record profits. Some people have reached their wits end, willing to risk criminal charges to avoid starvation and retaliate against rising prices and perceived greed from big corporations

. Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, a senior director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Halifax’s Dalhousie University, explains that grocery theft “has always been a major problem” for retailers, but it is now “worse than before” after more than a year of price hikes due to inflation.

“According to some industry data, an average-sized food retail store in Canada can have between $2,000 and $5,000 worth of groceries stolen per week,” he wrote in a recently published article. “With the relatively narrow profit margins in grocery, this amount is huge. To cover losses, grocers need to raise prices, so in the end, we all pay for grocery theft.” The average four-person Canadian household is expected to spend over $16,000 on groceries this year— about $1,066 more than last year, making it increasingly more difficult for consumers with lower incomes to put food on the table.

Twitter users have expressed mixed reactions to the shoplifting trend. One twitter user argued that “If you’re too poor to afford food and the government doesn’t give you any options, taking food from a corporate grocery chain to survive doesn’t sound like THEFT.” However, Dr. Charlebois himself says that shoplifting from grocery stores is “crazy” and not an appropriate solution. Still, most of the comments on Charlebois’s tweet did not take too kindly to Charlebois’s defence that high food prices aren’t a justification for shoplifting.

“Galen Weston and his family are thieves who have profiteered for decades, and if you think it’s wrong to steal food (product insured for loss) in order to survive… you’re a clown,” wrote one user, referring to the majority owner, Chairman, and CEO of the Loblaws grocery chain. This statement highlights the growing frustration and anger towards wealthy individuals and corporations who are seen as profiting at the expense of ordinary Canadians.

It’s clear that the conversation on social media serves as a reflection of the growing frustration and desperation that many individuals may be feeling and highlights the need for systemic change— perhaps one that goes beyond just a temporary “price freeze” on No Name grocery products.

Information for this briefing was found via twitter and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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