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Battle for bargains: Shoppers hunt for deals as inflation continues to bite


A day after Loblaws' price-freeze on No Name products ended, some experts are warning retailers that consumers won't hesitate to find new places to shop if prices are better.

Lineups have become common outside the Gateway Meat Market in Dartmouth, N.S., especially on weekends.

Famous for lost leaders, the local market has honed a reputation with bargain hunters and some people are even willing to travel to get there.

Jennifer Harten drove from Rawdon, N.S., which is an hour away from the market.

"They had significant savings here compared to some of the other stores," Harten told CTV News on Sunday. "So, I'm just here to stock up on some of the things they have on sale."

"Prices are getting ridiculous in grocery stores," said Alessandra Naccarato. "I'm a student, so to be able to afford food, it's better to come where there's good deals, and I saw it online so I came here."

It's not just grocery prices that keep going up. It seems everywhere people are turning, they're paying more.

The December inflation rate sailed in at 6.3 per cent, slightly lower than what analysts were expecting, but still painful for those struggling to get by.

"There definitely have been some retailers who've been taking advantage of this situation to raise their prices to pad their profits," said retail analyst Bruce Winder.

"[But] having said that, there's also a lot of retailers who aren't able to raise the costs needed to cover their new, higher input costs, so it's going to be across the board," said Winder, adding retailers often find inventive ways to keep customers.

"Some of them create value products or value product lines. So, they come up with sort of a de-spect or lower-specification version of the products. Maybe it's smaller - you've heard of 'shrinkflation' - to try to keep prices intact while still doing volume," he said.

"And, what happens though, is consumers change their mix in terms of who they shop at. So, maybe if they shopped a little more at Walmart, now they're shopping at Dollarama or Dollar Tree."

And shoppers are looking for other ways to save.

Kat Cassidy has built a couponing empire on social media platforms, with117,000 followers on Instagram alone.

"I really think Canadians are looking for ways to start being a little bit more savvy with their money, and really stretch their dollar as we hit record high inflation, especially when it comes to those everyday items, such as groceries," said Cassidy, who took up couponing as a hobby a decade ago.

"I'm very thankful to be able to reach so many people and try and help them. Giving them the tips and tricks to start saving money, but at the end of the day, it does come down to the individual. How much you save depends on the time and effort that you want to put into something. I always say, couponing can be a fun hobby, but it also has that financial reward as well."

Cassidy, who also provides content on Facebook and YouTube, has a full-time job outside of couponing, and notes deals can be significantly different in different regions of the country.

"In Ontario, we sometimes see some of the lower prices, compared to out west or the Maritimes, sometimes pricing is a little bit inflated. Just the cost of goods are more. But, also it really comes down to, 'What stores do you have in your area?'" she said.

"A lot of Canadians are struggling right now, especially with inflation on everyday items like groceries. But, when you go online and you're looking at other creators or couponers who are doing the same thing as you, don't be afraid to ask questions and start learning, because at the end of the day, we're all really just here to help each other and try to get through this as much as we can."

Back at the Gateway Meat Market, Naccarato was pleased with her purchases, totalling around $140.

"I go to Walmart, and it's like four things and it's $50. And come here and support local, and actually get enough food for the week," she said. "It was definitely packed." Top Stories

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