Grocery shopping in Canada: Canadians say 'this is not the way it should be'

It used to be a favourite activity for some. Now it's pricey, inconvenient and no fun at all

Venting about the price of groceries has become a common practice on social media. But one comedian recently decried the state of the grocery shopping experience on TikTok, and he appears to have touched a nerve. His comments are flooded by thousands of Canadians sharing similar gripes.

Toronto-based comedian Mark Edwards took to TikTok to criticize several aspects of grocery shopping in Canada that are challenging to navigate, aside from the obvious one of inflated prices.

In the video, Edwards covers a variety of points that many find frustrating, including the quality of produce from discount supermarkets, shopping carts that require coins to operate, self checkouts, the lack of human customer service and always having to plan to have a reusable bag (or multiple) on hand — a predicament a fellow shopper experienced on a recent trip.

“I guess I’ll just pile it in my cart and throw it in my trunk and then get a laundry basket at home in the driveway.” he says dryly. “This is not the way it should be.”

While Edwards says he always brings reusable bags on grocery trips, many items, like milk (in some provinces) and produce, are packaged in an excessive amount of plastic.

"Milk ... is three plastic bags inside plastic bag," he jokes. "But I have to take it home in a reusable bag."

Milk and dairy products are displayed for sale at a grocery store in Aylmer, Que., on Thursday, May 26, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Milk and dairy products are displayed for sale at a grocery store in Aylmer, Que., on Thursday, May 26, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Others agree: Grocery shopping is just not fun anymore

"I used to enjoy grocery shopping," one commenter wrote. "It’s such a sad, disappointing necessity now."

"Doing daily tasks and errands use to be exhilarating and you had a sense of satisfaction," another added. "Now it’s just a waking nightmare everywhere."

The post appears to be resonating with Canadians, as it has racked up more than 5,400 comments, with many agreeing with Edwards.

“I love the part when it’s like I work there scanning my own food then balancing it precariously on a tiny metal tray while being watched like a thief,” one commenter wrote.

“I use the plastic bags they provide for produce to carry my groceries now,” one ingenious commenter wrote.

(Canada’s single-use plastic ban went into effect in Dec. 2022, which has led to the elimination of many commonly used plastics across the country, including shopping bags.)

Others in Edwards’ comments shared puzzling aspects of the grocery shopping experience that are increasingly more commonplace, like being asked to donate to charity at the register or buying multiples of an item to get a discount.

“And (then after) you pay $500 for 6 bags of groceries they ask you to donate to a charity, which is just a tax write off the companies,” one commenter bemoaned.

“Why do I have to buy 3 cans of tuna to get the deal,” another commenter wrote. “I can't afford 3...I can barely afford 1!”

Grocery prices in Canada continue to shock customers

Users on Reddit and other social media have posted about their experiences at Canada's grocery stores.

Earlier this month, a customer warned others about chicken that was possibly re-labelled to extend its shelf life. Metro responded by apologizing for the "handler error."

Over the summer, a TikTok user posted a video of a half-filled bag of chips that Loblaw also had to apologize for.

Some shoppers have even taken to getting dry and pantry goods from stores like Dollarama, as many discover identical items there for a fraction of the cost at larger retailers.