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COLUMN: As prices rise, check out this grocer code of conduct

With grocery boycotts making the news, in this week's column Wendy drafts her own set of principles and ethics for supermarkets
2020-12-14 Loblaws Barrie RB 4
The Loblaws store on Bayfield Street in Barrie was rebranded as a Zehrs store on May 16, 2024. | Raymond Bowe/BarrieToday files

Who knew there was a grocery code of conduct? I certainly didn’t.

It has been making the news while the Loblaw boycott continues through the month of May.

In a nutshell, citizens got completely fed up with insane prices of all things edible and decided to try to make a dent in the profits of the biggest fish — the food chains owned by the Westons.

Then came news that the company had signed this document two years in the making.

It doesn’t come into effect until June 2025, so it remains to be seen if this in any way is a benefit to consumers.

In the meantime, I thought about what I would include in a grocery store code of conduct.

I don’t imagine such a document reads like the gospel, but mine would as it seems more official and ominous.

Maybe, it could even be chiselled in a concrete tablet at the front of every store.

To be fair, let’s assume these are not so much commandments as suggestions to make shoppers’ lives easier.

  1. Thou shalt keep shopping carts in proper working order. Wheels must not be wonky. Steering must be aligned. Noises must not be screechy. (I assume you know what aisle to find WD40.)
  2. The plastic baggies used to contain fruit and veggies shall be pre-opened. Nobody has time to stand around like complete losers shaking or applying water attempting to find the opening. If you cannot supply a bag that opens easily, staff must be available to assist before said customer collapses in a frustrated mess.
  3. Make the prices straightforward. When a sign says grapes $2.99 a pound or asparagus $1.99 a pound, my pea brain thinks that means the bunch I just picked up is that price. Clearly, it is not. No, I do not wish to weigh them; I wish for the retailer to tell me the exact price of said bunch of produce. 
  4. Thou shalt not change everything around in the store just as we get used to it. People are creatures of habit. Redesign displays if you must, but leave well enough alone.
  5. Explain how certain products are used? OK, this is not a commandment, but it would be a nice bonus. There are so many new-to-me, imported products on the shelves and I have literally no clue how I would prepare them. Can you show me a picture? I would try some of the different offerings if I knew what to do with them.
  6. Directional arrows. Bring them back. Not much good came from the pandemic, but arrows in the aisles were a smart idea. Now, they’ve have worn off the floors people are just driving willy nilly. It is exactly how they drive in the parking lot, but now also in the meat aisle. Wrong-way driving, stopped dead, abandoned carts, standing around like zombies price-checking stuff on their phones. It’s a real life episode of The Walking Dead. My code of conduct will include the return of arrows or the installation of buggy bells and horns. Can I get a witness?
  7. At the checkout, giveth thy customer some personal space. Do not rush me. It should be a sin for your products to touch mine. It feels uncomfortable. Keep your artichokes away from my melon. Personal space is sacred.
  8. Blessed are the helpers. Hire some staff! I don’t care if you’re pushing self-checkouts, management must still provide staff to assist people at those kiosks so as not to disrupt the flow. We still need cashiers for those of us who prefer them. We still need price checkers. We still need managers around for voids.
  9. Included in my imaginary scripture would be staff who would assist with lifting heavy products and helping load the car. I know those days are gone, but a shopper can pray.
  10. Hear ye! Hear ye! Taketh thy cart back to the cart corral. If you are too lazy to return it after use, your conduct is despicable. Unless a person is physically unable, there is no excuse.

It's doubtful anyone will adopt my doctrine and I don’t know how I would mete out punishment, anyway. 

Maybe a few lashes with a wet noodle? 

Nope, at these prices we can’t waste food.


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About the Author: Wendy King

Wendy King writes about all kinds of things from nutrition to the job search from cats to clowns — anything and everything — from the ridiculous to the sublime. Watch for Wendy's column weekly.
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