Five Winnipeg grocery stores will soon be up for sale, thanks to a Competition Bureau ruling that ordered Sobeys to sell the spots before it takes over Safeway.
Sobeys Inc. has been ordered to sell 23 stores across Canada, including five in Winnipeg, before it purchases Safeway Canada for $5.8 billion.
The bureau said the sales are necessary to keep the grocery market competitive.
In Winnipeg, the Safeway locations include Southdale Centre, Grant Park, St. Vital, and the North End, as well as a Price Chopper store on Stafford Street in Fort Rouge.
The move has many Winnipeggers asking what that will mean for their bottom line.
“I'm interested to see when Sobeys takes over what happens to the prices? I think right now there is good competition with the three big names: Sobeys, Superstore and Safeway,” said Kyliuk. “I understand they probably can’t keep them all open. I think sometimes we need to look at locations and the community it serves.”
Under the Competition Bureau’s ruling, the St. Vital location and all others for sale must be sold to viable grocers who plan to keep them open in order for Sobeys bid to buy Safeway to be finalized.
But officials with the Consumers’ Association of Canada say Winnipeggers should still be concerned.
If the locations are sold to grocers that already exist in the area, it will mean fewer options for shoppers and could lead to higher prices.
“We might lose some choice of products. We might see higher prices. We might see less stores, particularly in neighbourhoods where it’s important to have stores – maybe not right now but over time,” said Gloria Desorcy of the Consumers’ Association of Canada.
That’s exactly what North End residents in Winnipeg are worried about.
“Downtown is difficult. There are not enough stores in downtown,” said Hermes Salinas, who regularly travels by bus from the West End to the North End to buy his groceries.
A lack of grocery options in downtown Winnipeg has been a chronic problem, and development agencies as well as the city have had trouble attracting grocers to the area.
Neechi Commons manager John Schillinger said operating a downtown grocery store isn’t easy.
“We’ve seen our sales grow. We unfortunately need to see them grow further to make ends meet,” he said.
Schillinger said he wants more Winnipeggers will shop local and hopes fewer big name chains in the market will help that.
There is no word yet on who might take over the locations.
Locations for sale in Winnipeg
Safeway, Main Street, 1441 Main St.
Safeway, Southdale Centre, 77 Vermillion Rd.
Safeway, Grant Park, 1120 Grant Ave.
Safeway, St. Vital, 850 Dakota St.
Price Chopper, Stafford Square, 677 Stafford S.