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Ottawa Valley independent grocers seeing increased business as shoppers seek alternative to Loblaws

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Small and family-run grocers say they are seeing increased business during the month of May, the same time a boycott of Loblaws and its affiliated stores has been taking place.

At Bee Savvy Fine Foods in Arnprior, owner Alicia Ott says sales have been up since the start of the month.

"[Shoppers are] seeing that the prices (at major corporations) are now almost the same as a local producer. And I think that's where we're really seeing people come in," Ott tells CTV News.

"It's hard to tell right now, this soon in the game, if it is a full boycott and we're seeing the increase in sales from that."

The boycott began on Reddit, where thousands of users congregated to complain about Loblaws and other major grocers in the face of increasing food prices and record profit.

The boycott of Loblaws and its affiliates, No Frills and Real Canadian Superstore, began May 1.

"I'm happy that more people are putting a conscious effort into learning about their everyday life and where their money is going," said Arnprior resident Morgan Turcotte.

Turcotte says she has been making an effort to stay out of major grocery chains for years now, and just finished a grocery shop at Green Bean Natural Foods in Arnprior on Thursday before speaking to CTV News.

"I would rather give them my money than line the pockets of major corporations."

But it is unclear if the boycott is having the effect organizers intended. Since the start of the month, Loblaws' stock price has gone up from $152.84 on May 1 to more than $155 as of Thursday.

"If you actually look at Galen Weston's portion of Loblaws, he's almost $1-billion richer than at the beginning of the month, May 1st," says Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, the director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University.

"If you are to run an effective boycott, which actually makes sense, you would encourage all Canadians to boycott the big five (grocery chains)," he says.

But participating in such boycotts is difficult for many Canadians.

"I would love to, but [No Frills] is the cheapest store compared to Metro," says Arnprior shopper Heather Bahm, referring to the two major grocers in the town.

"Everywhere you shop, it's too expensive."

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