Loblaws at Maple Leaf Gardens big

As COVID-19 emergency measures begin to loosen, Loblaw Companies Limited is beginning to make adjustments to its stores, says Galen Weston, executive chairman.

"It is good to see governments at all levels are able to steadily loosen emergency measures. As that happens, we are also making adjustments in our stores."

Weston says in the coming days and weeks, the company plans to reopen supermarket service counters in meat, seafood and bakery and beauty departments at Shoppers Drug Mart. It will also reopen President's Choice Financial pavilions and its Mobile Shops.

It will also start to be offer next-day pick-up through its PC Express online grocery service and reintroduce fees for some of the most popular time slots. In-store, it will start to accept product returns and stores will go back to regular shopping hours.

Weston says the expanded services will be phased in gradually, on a store-by-store basis, so it can continue to adjust its approach as required. Measures put in place to support social distancing will remain, including enhanced cleaning protocols, plexiglass screens and capacity limits.

The company plans to continue to make adjustments "as the curve continues to flatten across the country" adding that he's "optimistic we can stay on this positive trajectory so that things will open up more and more."

Stewart Samuel, program director - Canada for IGD and a regular contributor to Grocery Business, commenting about the Loblaw changes, says he expects to see longer term format changes in grocery stores.

"Canada has been relatively successful to date in ‘flattening the curve’ which has enabled the relaxation of some of the lockdown mandates. These are being eased on a phased basis, with each province adopting its own approach, reflecting the severity of the pandemic. While these adjustments will be welcomed by shoppers, over time we expect to see a new approach to format development. Future stores will likely be designed to support social-distancing, be better equipped to meet extreme trading cycles and support stronger demand for ecommerce."

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