AMHERST – Dozens of underperforming grocery stores across Canada are being closed by parent-company Sobeys and here in Nova Scotia the only closure will be in Amherst.
Sobeys Atlantic Manager of Communications Shauna Selig confirmed Thursday the twenty-six employees at the downtown Amherst Foodland were notified of the decision Wednesday evening that the store will be closing permanently on July 5, at 6 p.m.
“We reviewed the whole network of stores on a market-by-market basis and determined the Amherst location was underperforming,” Seliq said.
The Amherst closure will be the only location impact in the province, but four Foodland storefronts and one Sobeys in New Brunswick will also be closed for underperforming, Selig said. Those locations include Perth Andover, Tracadie and St. Stephen.
Sobeys parent company, Empire, released a press release Thursday confirming 50 underperforming stores across Canada will be closed to improve its net earnings, and more than half of those will take place in Western Canada.
The decision to cut the stores comes after the $5.8-billion acquisition of rival Safeway Canada.
Several shoppers that cumberlandnewsnow.com talked to said they were shocked by the news.
"It's a shame. It's a great store with great people working there," Jim Rhindress said. "I shop there quite often."
Another shopper, who wished to remain unidentified, said the closure is going to impact people living in the downtown. The person said there are a lot of people living in and around the downtown who don't have transportation and walk to the Foodland to buy their groceries.
"Some of us don't have a car. This means we'll have to take a cab out to the malls to get our groceries. That can get expensive," the person said.
Evange Landry said she'll miss the store, adding it's a sign of the direction Amherst is heading.
"Pretty soon Amherst is going to be a ghost town. There are so many things closing," she said. "Soon, there'll be nothing left. At least I'm happy they reopened Sears."
Amherst Deputy Mayor Lisa Emery said the decision by Sobeys will impact a lot of people, employees and residents alike.
“My initial reaction was disappointment such a large store was closing in downtown, but I know Sobeys has to make its own business decisions,” Emery said. “There is a lot of people who live in the downtown area. Where are they going to get their groceries?”
Emery says there are opportunities for some grocery shopping in the downtown, like Loblaw Pharmacy and the newly minted Manesseh Local Food, but many, especially those with limited mobility, benefited from having a downtown grocery store.
“We need to see if someone can step in,” Emery said.