Toronto-based drug store chain Shoppers Drug Mart will use Regina, Saskatchewan, as a test market in May, putting fresh food in all eight of the retailers' larger locations. This follows the company's testing fresh food in six Toronto stores.
Regina was chosen as Canada's first city to test fresh food at Shoppers Drug Mart stores city-wide, considering its modest population and limited number of Shoppers Drug Mart stores. If successful, the concept could expand nationally, according to The Financial Post.
Toronto-based grocer Loblaw bought Shoppers Drug Mart last year for $12.4 billion, providing new retail space in various urban markets. Shoppers Drug Mart has since shed its Nativa, Simply Food and Everyday Market packaged food brands, instead focusing on Loblaw's popular President's Choice label.
According to the Financial post, about a third of the newly renovated Toronto Shoppers Drug Mart locations are devoted to fresh food, carrying "everything from avocados to air-chilled organic chickens". It's a bold move, considering substantially lower margins on food compared to other drug store categories.
Fresh food at Shoppers Drug Mart will prove hugely popular in some urban areas, some of which lack nearby grocery stores. Shoppers Drug Mart has a presence in many downtown retail plazas and if fresh food moves in, these stores will function as local grocery stores, providing benefit to both downtown workers as well as those who reside downtown.
As a result, Shoppers Drug Mart is arguably contributing to the increased livability of Canadian urban areas. Suburban areas, however, may be less receptive to buying fresh food in a drug store, especially in automobile-dependent areas where driving to grocery stores and large food-carrying retailers such as Costco and Walmart is relatively simple.
We'll update you on Shoppers Drug Mart's national fresh-food rollout.