North

Yellowknife food prices rising 2x as fast as national average

The consumer price index for October shows the price of groceries in Yellowknife went up by 6.7 per cent in the past year, compared to the Canadian average of 3.1 per cent.

The price of groceries in Yellowknife is rising faster than anywhere else in the country and Whitehorse's food costs aren't far behind.

Numbers in the most recent consumer price index released by Statistics Canada show the price of food bought in stores in both capitals has risen more than the national average. The consumer price index measures the cost of goods and services across the country and tracks the changes over time.

In the North, Statistics Canada keeps a consumer price index for the three territorial capitals but for Iqaluit it only releases an all items index, not a breakdown of different sectors.

The consumer price index for October shows the price of groceries went up an average of 3.1 per cent in Canada over the last 12 months.

In Whitehorse, the price of those same goods rose by 5 per cent. And in Yellowknife, prices at the grocery store went up by 6.7 per cent.

October is the sixth month in a row that Yellowknife shoppers saw an increase at the grocery store.

Statistics Canada says the biggest drivers of the price jump in Yellowknife were meats, and fresh fruits and vegetables. The price of meat jumped 16.6 per cent in 12 months, while fruit went up 15.2 per cent and vegetables rose 12.3 per cent.

Meat was also the item with the largest increase in Whitehorse where the price went up 13.7 per cent, but Whitehorse did not see the same kind of hike in fruit and vegetable prices that Yellowknife did.

SylvainCharlebois, a professor of marketing and consumer studies at the University of Guelph, says high salaries in the northern capitals are partly to blame for the jump in prices. 

He says one of the reasons Yellowknife and Whitehorse are seeing a sharper increase than the rest of the country is because the market can handle it.

“Salaries are much higher in Yellowknife than the average province, “ said Charlebois. 

“Food retailers know this and they know that if they have an opportunity to increase prices they will.”

Charlebois added logistics also plays a role in higher prices.

"To get food to remote areas of the country costs more, so margins are much much lower. They’re low in urban areas, but it gets even worse in places like Yellowknife. So as soon as you have an opportunity to increase prices you take advantage of it."

According to Statistics Canada the average salary in the N.W.T. is $1,397 a week, the highest in the country.​

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