Have you ever imagined a world without grocery stores? Sounds like a pretty impossible thing to think about, right? Even some of our earliest childhood memories include days of grocery shopping with our parents; sitting in the cart and looking through the aisles with our eyes full of wonder. Needless to say, grocery stores are an essential part of our everyday lives, and it’s important for us to be well-aware of the stores in our locality.
But what if you were migrating to a new place, and had absolutely no idea about where to go grocery shopping? When you move to a new place, it’s very important that you know how much your cost of living will be in the said place. You need to budge properly for it, after all. Let’s take Canada for example, where people spend an average of about $487 a month only on food. And that’s for people who already know where to look for what they want.
Want to be one of those people but don’t know where to start? We all shop for groceries based on our own needs, so have you been wondering where you can get the food items that you need? Have you been desperately looking for Canadian grocery stores near you to no avail?
Because when you first move to Canada, it goes without saying that everything is going to feel new and unfamiliar. Long before moving, you have probably already worried about a home, a job, and all of the other things that can help you settle down. Maybe we can help ease at least one of your worries by giving you a list of Canadian grocery stores and chains that you could pop into one of these days and check for yourself.
The Top 15 Canadian Grocery Stores
So what would be the best choice for you when it comes to a grocery store you could regularly visit? Let’s narrow it down:
1. Loblaw Companies
Loblaw Companies, not only just the food but also Canada’s pharmacy leaders, have No Frills, Real Canadian Superstores, and Loblaws under them.
The company was founded in the year 1919, in Brampton, Ontario by Theodore Loblaw and J. Milton Cork. They have an overall franchise of over 2400 stores. Along with great stores that mainly sell groceries, you can also find clothing, houseware, as well as electronics at some of their stores.
They have stores located in the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan, as well as Quebec.
The largest chain with about stores that count up to around 400 all through Quebec and Ontario, Metro has over 142 stores operating under the banner Marche Richelieu. In Quebec, Super C is the supermarket division of Metro that runs on a discount. In Ontario, the grocery stores that offer discounts run under the brand Food Basics.
To Metro’s annual sales, these two stores contribute up to C$1 billion. Overall, Metro’s retail network incorporates around 950 food stores under the Metro, Metro Plus, Food Basics, Super C, and other banners all around Quebec and Ontario.
Metro is considered one of the best grocery store chains in not just Canada, but the world.
Found in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, Sobeys has more than 1500 stores under different banners (IGA, Safeway, Foodland, Thrifty Foods, FreshCo and Chalo FreshCo, Sobeys Urban Fresh, and Sobeys Extra) in all ten provinces and has been in operation since 1990. Today they are known for their in-store design, friendly customer service policies, and strategic advertising.
Their loyalty programs, online grocery sales, and charitable sponsorship continue to keep them on top of the food chain.
In Western Canada, the grocery chain is the 3rd largest with almost 200 stores – especially in Alberta and British Columbia. The current Safeway brands are Lucerne – daily line, Primo Taglio; where you will get deli products, and O Organics for organic foods.
And what’s interesting about the store, is that the name ‘Safeway’ is part of a larger slogan “Drive the Safeway; Buy the Safeway”, referring to the fact that the store did not offer credit. Buying the ‘safe way’ meant not using credit, or in other words, risking getting into debt.
IEstablished in 1929, Safeway was sold to Sobey’s in 2013. However, it continues to operate with the same logo and name. It has altogether in-store 173 pharmacies, 162 grocery stores, 10 stores of liquor, and fuel stations of a total of 62, as of March 2020. Today, it continues to rank among the top Canadian grocery stores.
In 1994, Walmart acquired 122 stores of Woolco in Canada to set up their presence here. While one could argue the company isn’t really Canadian, the multinational retail corporation acquired all the employees of Woolco stores. Today, the brand headquartered in Mississauga has over 408 stores.
“Walmart sells just about everything you could ever need so planning a trip to this big box retailer could make your life easier and reduce the need to go into multiple stores.”
-Andrea Woroch, Consumer savings expert
Love it for its low prices or its range of options, there is a lot going on to make Walmart among the best Canadian grocery stores.
6. Real Canadian Superstore
It is a supermarket chain available at 6 different locations (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Yukon) out of 10 provinces in Canada. You will find almost 114 stores only in Ontario. The first store opened in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in the year 1979. Previously, it was named SuperValu.
7. No Frills
The year 1978 was tough because of high inflation and this store adopt a discount price European model in promoting the business. They used to promote fresh production at the lowest possible price. The strategy worked for many customers and slowly the grocery store became a ‘family name’.
Today, they have stores in Alberta, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.
The customers can pack their groceries and even bring their shopping bags. Though there was less service for customers and selection method, still the grocery store has made a big name for itself.
No Frills carries fewer products at relatively lower prices and ends up being cheaper than many other grocery stores that carry thousands of products. Aside from that, they also save on labor costs by having no bakery, no butcher, and giving out no free bags.
8. Canadian Tire
After selling Hamilton Tire and Garage Ltd, Alfred Jackson and John William Billes opened the first grocery store in the year 1934 in Hamilton, Ontario. The grocery store witnesses incredible growth and it has almost 487 stores. You can find this company on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
“Across all our banners, we’re working to reduce the environmental impacts of our activities and playing our part in building a better country for all Canadians.”
-Robyn Collver, SVP Regulatory Affairs and CHief Sustainibility Officer.
They create products that contribute to environmental sustainability, ‘Driving value while giving back to the communities we serve’ being their motto. By serving their customers with eco-friendly products, they support them in making informed purchases with the environment in mind. Their constant focus also goes into working on products that reduce GHG emissions and help limit the use of virgin resources and waste.
9. Food Basics
A&P Canada in the year 1995 founded this chain of grocery stores. In the year 2005, Metro Inc purchased Food Basics. Now, it has 125 stores all around Ontario. Some stores also provide pharmacies in the store and you can call it Food and Drug Basics.
Sobey’s discount shop was this grocery store. In the year 2010, it came into the picture. The main aim of this grocery store is to provide fresh ingredients at a very low price. All over Ontario, you will find 88 stores. They believe that fresh items do not have to be expensive. They have very new things in the store that you cannot even imagine exist.
The aim of FreshCo sores is to keep an easy-to-shop layout, providing fresh food at affordable prices, highlighting deals and savings throughout the store. They also happen to have an in-store pharmacy where the customers can fill their prescriptions right alongside their shopping hours.
By the end of the fiscal 2021 second quarter, they had planned to open two more FreshCos in British Columbia and four in Saskatchewan.
It operates for both small towns and large cities all through Southern Ontario. It is named a “one-stop” shop where you will get a fresh bakery, wine shops, clothing, pharmacy, electronics, and non-traditional items. Both Fortino and Zehrmart merged in the year 2005 under the Loblaw banner.
It is a chain of Canadian grocery stores that was established in the year 1985. You will find the stores in rural Ontario and Atlantic Canada areas. The size of the store is 4000 to 27, 000 sq. feet in size, which is owned by Sobeys. They focus on the convenience of the customer and they offer dry goods, deli, dairy products meats, and frozen food.
13. Save on Foods
In British Columbia, it operates in 110 stores, 1 in the territory of Yukon, Alberta has 39 stores, Manitoba had three and Saskatchewan has 6 stores. You will all types of grocery items that help your home to run.
While among the popular Canadian grocery stores, you may want to take in membership in this one though when you shop, as items cost a fair bit more without one. Membership is free, so don’t worry.
Loblaw Companies Limited is the parent company of this brand. Since 2012, it has had 23 stores all together. John Fortino, a steelworker from Italy opened the store in the year 1961, in Hamilton. Since then, the grocery store has witnessed immense success and growth in the hearts of Canadians.
In 1996, the company launched the concept of “Fortinos Adventure”. It recreates the streetscape of Europe where the front has a small shop and then you will get the style of open market on a large scale for deli area and even for fresh produce. You will also have “The Butcher Block” which allows customers to place an order of deli cuts.
15. London Drugs
You get more than you think here. From aisles dedicated to vacuum cleaners, laptops, and more, to regular groceries like biscuits, milk, and more – London Drugs has it all.
You can become a member of their London Drugs Extra, a loyalty program where you can get benefits like $5 for every ten purchases you make.
Did we mention the other grocery store options?
There are several other grocery stores that are dedicated to particular communities in Canada. Fruiticana in Vancouver for example houses everything Indian; from Maggi to Thums Up, to that vegetable you had difficulty finding in regular Canadian grocery stores.
You can also go to Costco, should you have a family. It makes ideal sense, and currently, membership prices are as low as $60 for a year.
Finding a grocery is no more pain for newcomers in Canada. Most of the grocery stores even have a separate pharmacy section! So you don’t really need to go elsewhere for your medicines either. And keep in mind, in all these above grocery stores, you should look out for weekly flyers. You will know what’s on sale then.
People from all over the world come to Canada. We are sure you will find something you need, no matter what you are looking for.