There are fewer grocery stores in Canada.
Now, that’s not a good thing.
But it’s not all bad news for consumers.
At least not if you’re Canadian.
Al’s, for instance, has been shuttered.
It had an open-store policy, and it opened up for the first time this summer, but it has had a hard time finding a buyer.
It has shuttered seven locations since July, according to the company’s website, and a store is no longer open in Quebec City, a region where it had a presence before closing.
“Al’s has been the largest grocery chain in the country for a number of years,” said Marc-André Leclerc, senior director of retail strategy at the Canada Food Inspection Agency.
“And it’s very sad that we can’t find a buyer for it.”
Als’ operations were the subject of a CBC News investigation last year.
It said it opened stores in the Ottawa area, Quebec City and Calgary.
Als was also found to be failing to meet its own internal reporting requirements and to be overcharging consumers for food it sold.
It closed in Ontario in February, and was later found to have violated provincial food safety regulations in its operation.
The closures are part of a wider trend, said Leclerts.
“We are seeing a lot of closures of grocery stores, and of those, the majority of them are for the second or third time,” he said.
Leclerc said the closures are the result of the lack of confidence that customers have in the grocery industry.
While the government has been pushing for more stores, some grocery retailers have decided not to open, he said, because they don’t want to deal with the disruption of an entire region.
According to a study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the closure of a grocery store is the second-leading cause of lost retail sales to grocery stores since the government started tracking them in the late 1990s.
But the closures have also been a boon to retailers, said Adam Moulton, a senior analyst with research firm Euromonitor International.
In addition to closing the stores, Als has announced it will invest $1.8 billion in its Canada grocery business, which is expected to grow from $921 million in 2015 to $1,072 million in 2021.
Canadian supermarkets have struggled to find buyers, Leclero said, noting that the country has seen a sharp decline in grocery spending over the past several years.
That has led to the closure, he added.
On Tuesday, Al’s posted a note on its website saying it is “continuing to evaluate the long-term viability of our Canadian operations.”
This news comes just a day after the national retail chain was closed in the Montreal area after more than 40 years in business.
Meanwhile, a Quebec City supermarket chain has closed its doors, too.