A small Wakanda
The cycle of civilizations

It pays to shop around

Called "price discrimination" or the "two-price system," it's a long-standing technique used by retailers and service providers to squeeze the most profit out of their customers by selling to different people at different prices.

"The goal is to increase sales and profits," said Jean-Paul Lam, an associate professor of economics at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ont.

Yup. In my area, Loblaws has Fortinos and No Frills grocery stores. Fortinos is where one finds greater variety and higher prices. No Frills, well, it's in the name. Still, it's somewhat amusing when the exact same product is on sale at both stores. For example, a two liter coke bottle: $2 at Fortinos but $1 at No Frills.

Mary Briggs of Mississauga, Ont., thought she would take advantage of a 20 per cent seniors' discount at Shoppers Drug Mart, a drugstore chain owned by Loblaw Companies Ltd. But she found that even after the discount, the drugstore price of $15.99 for the Tide Pods she wanted was more expensive than the $10.99 at the Loblaw-owned Independent Grocery.

"Why two companies owned by Loblaws have such a large price difference is the question," Briggs said in her email.

Because enough people pay the higher price. Besides, what, exactly, would be the point of having stores with different names if all the prices were the same?


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