Pain in the gas

Sherry Martell
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Independent retailers feeling the effects of discount incentives

Pain in the gas

MASSTOWN - Independent gasoline retailers are feeling the impact of incentives being offered at the checkouts of large grocery store chains.
George Dzuba owns and operates an XTR Gas Stop in Masstown and feels customers are embracing the popular marketing programs and anticipates they will be around for the long haul.
"It does have an impact but it is impossible to measure," said Dzuba.
"You and me and the people don't really get savings because these pennies are already calculated in the margins they have."
The businessman installed gasoline pumps about seven years ago to complement an accommodation business also on the site. He shut down his pumps when gas price regulation came into effect but reopened under the XTR brand about a year ago.
He said customers have slowly been coming back to his service station and is hoping that trend continues but free or discount gas incentives currently offered by grocery giants draw people away from his community and into larger centres to redeem coupons.
While he doesn't like losing business he doesn't feel that type of marketing program should be banned.
"When you prohibit advertising, where do you draw the line?" asked Dzuba.
The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (NSUARB) will be exploring that and other issues surrounding the promotion of petroleum products at a hearing in Halifax on Jan. 18.
Paul Allen, executive director of the board, said the review is being done at the request of the government through the process of regulation to offer recommendations.
Eight issues in total will be considered, such as identifying what is considered a promotion, the impact of promotions on rural markets, if they should be allowed and if limits should be imposed on them.
Graham Conrad, executive director of the retail Gasoline Dealers Association of Nova Scotia, is not taking a hard-line position on the issue, but said the promotions are causing concern within the industry.
"Some of the concerns that we have as retailers is what could be next?" he said. "This is a new twist we have never experienced before. When you start promoting gasoline from businesses that are not gasoline related we are concerned about where this is
headed."
The organization is also concerned about the promotion of fossil fuels when there is a strong shift in people's desire to reduce fuel consumption.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, XTR, Gasoline Dealers Association of Nova Scotia

Geographic location: MASSTOWN, Halifax

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Recent comments

  • Ex-Pat
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    Let's leave Canadian Tire OUT of this - eh? They were doing this as an INTERNAL program LONG before this current crop of whining sprung up.

    What they are offering is a small REBATE - as opposed to a discount.

    Often times that collected Canadian Trie money is donated to community charities.

    I *choose* to purchase my fuel where I want to based on convenience and service.

    BELIEVE ME little independents - your whining is not endearing you to those you hope to attract.

  • Flogger
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    Hi Aurora. I drive an SUV that takes approximately 90 litres for a full fill-up. I sometimes save 6 or 7 cents a litre from my rebate at Sobey's, etc. I will gladly take the few cents per litre you save off your gas purchases. Can you send me your rebate coupon? It will make my gas purchases more palatable. PLEASE, I ask that no one jump all over me for driving an SUV!!

  • Sarah
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    Sobey's, Superstore, Canadian Tire, Wal-Mart..these are BIG corporations and sadly, it's not just the gasoline industry they're beginning to undercut.
    Of course consumers are going to go where the best deals are and smaller businesses simply cannot compete with these big stores.

  • Johnny Cash
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    To suggest we aren't otherwise paying for these incentives would be a bit naive. It's the same as the famous Sobey's Buy one, get one sales. The fact is that groceries (and other items) are marked up to cover the incentive. It may be long before the incentive takes place, but if you really think these places simply absorb the cost you'd be wrong.

    An example would be the most recent Buy one, get two incentive offered by Sobey's. There were 3 items offered in that sale that I can say for a fact I purchase regularly and were indeed marked up to more than twice the normal price. Two of them were meat products and the other was a juice product.

    Either way, we pay for that 1 cent off gasoline through increased prices in the purchases we make.

    That said, in a one month period I earned enough Sobey's discounts to pay for a $60 fill up. I didn't shop for the gas discount. I just happen to shop at Sobey's.

  • Brian
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    You and me and the people dont really get savings because these pennies are already calculated in the margins they have

    This is just an uneducated statement.

    The organization is also concerned about the promotion of fossil fuels when there is a strong shift in people's desire to reduce fuel consumption

    This is dumb too, imlying that people only drive gas powered cars becasue they get reabtes from grocery stores?


    Chnaging the rules so smaller guys can stay in business is a bad idea. If i open a department store, what right do i have to complain that Wal mart has an advantage over me?

  • John
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    To have the director of the Gasoline Dealers Association of Nova Scotia say they are concerned about the promotion of fossil fuel is puzzling since that is what they do.

  • Aurora
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    Flogger: With an SUV, I do feel for you with high gas prices... but sorry! I have started saving my coupons for a non-profit with vans. I'm sure for you and others with larger trucks and vans you can see a savings -- especially if you save the max of 9 cents on a real fill-up .

    I don't think they should stop the coupons -- quite the opposite.

    I just don't understand why a gas station is not allowed to discount a regulated gas price, but this one company can sell it discounted under the guise of a coupon.

  • Rob
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    The organization is also concerned about the promotion of fossil fuels when there is a strong shift in people's desire to reduce fuel consumption.

    Stop being concerned and help the public find solutions. Bleeding them dry does not seem to be the solution most are looking for.

  • Aurora
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    I do occasionally use the Sobeys'/Irving coupons myself, but I really don't go out of my way to save 80 cents on a fill-up. The average $20 to $30 gas purchase, even if you have the max coupon value allowed isn't a grand savings by any means.

    I have wondered how they are able to offer gas at a discount when gas prices are regulated in the province.

  • Charinator
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    Well we certainly can't have consumers saving money now...