The landscape of the grocery store retail market in Metro Vancouver is about to change as 10 large stores branded and operated by Safeway are about to undergo a mass closure, with nearly all affected stores shuttering next week.
Sobeys, which owns Safeway Canada, announced in January it will close 10 stores in the region by early-May, but this timeline was later extended by two months for most stores after a dispute with the union representing its workers. The union previously stated about 1,000 employees will be affected.
The following four stores will permanently close on July 5:
These five store locations will also close on July 5, but they could reopen in the future under Sobeys’ FreshCo branding:
The Safeway store at Vancouver’s City Square shopping mall, across from Vancouver City Hall, will be the last to close on July 28.
All of the stores have been preparing for their planned closure since the middle of spring, with items no longer being restocked and empty shelves growing at an exponential rate.
As of this week, the stores had just a tiny fraction of their product selection compared to the options during normal business operations months earlier.
Many of these Safeway stores were anchor retailers for their retail district and shopping mall locations, drawing patronage to not only the grocery store but also spillover to neighbouring shops and restaurants.
Some areas will suffer more than others.
For instance, the Safeway building at Lougheed Mall will be demolished anyway for the ‘The City of Lougheed’ redevelopment.
However, the store location on West 10th Avenue will be a major loss for West Point Grey Village’s businesses, which are already struggling to survive amidst soaring property taxes and tough competition from the new shops and restaurants at the UBC campus, including the newer Save-On-Foods at UBC Wesbrook Village.
Some of the to-be-closed store locations, including West Point Grey, are expected to undergo redevelopment at some point in the future.
Sobeys acquired the Canadian division of Safeway Inc. in 2013 in an effort to expand its presence in the Western Canada market. The $5.8-billion deal added over 200 stores to its portfolio, which includes retail brands such as FreshCo, Thrifty Foods, and IGA.
Correction: The Safeway store at City Square will close on July 28.