Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Support quality journalism
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
The Globe and Mail
Support quality journalism
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Globe and Mail website displayed on various devices
Just$1.99
per week
for the first 24 weeks

var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){console.log("scroll");var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1);

An employee pushes a cart in front of a Sobeys store in Mississauga, Ont., on Jan. 31, 2018.

J.P. MOCZULSKI/Globe and Mail

One of Canada’s largest grocers has seen a sales bump as Canadians buy more than usual in an effort to prepare amid the growing novel coronavirus outbreak.

“Our customers are obviously concerned,” said Michael Medline, CEO of Empire Co. Ltd, during a conference call with analysts after the company released its third-quarter financial results.

Customers are wanting to take care of their families, he said, but the company hasn’t seen an inordinate stockpiling of goods.

Story continues below advertisement

“People are buying what you would predict they would to set themselves up in case there’s some sort of emergency in their family,” Medline said.

As more cases of COVID-19 crop up in the country, some events, conferences and sports have been cancelled, and more people have been asked to practice social distancing or self isolate.

Empire is seeing a clear acceleration in certain categories, said Medline, and it tends to be more acute in certain regions, especially those most affected with novel coronavirus patients.

Over the last few days, the parent company of Sobeys and Safeway grocery stores has seen that expand a little bit beyond what Medline called “the truly predictable categories.”

“I don’t want to overstate the entire store impact at this point, but we are seeing accelerated sales trends and at a pace that we just haven’t seen before.”

The commentary came as Empire reported it earned $120.5 million in its latest quarter, up from $65.8 million in the same period a year earlier.

The profit amounted to 45 cents per diluted share for the 13-week period ended Feb. 1 compared with 24 cents per share a year earlier.

Story continues below advertisement

Sales in what was the company’s third quarter totalled nearly $6.4 billion, up from $6.2 billion in the same quarter a year ago.

Same-store sales gained 1.0 per cent, while same-store sales growth, excluding fuel, rose 0.8 per cent.

On an adjusted basis, Empire earned $123.7 million or 46 cents per diluted share, up from an adjusted profit of $72.9 million or 27 cents per diluted share a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 46 cents per share, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies