Current as of: March 28, 2020, 1:00PM
You would not think of Showcase as a retailer of essential health supplies, and until a few months ago, neither did we. But when we witnessed the unprecedented emerging health crisis, and the devastating impact it was having across the 117 communities we serve, we knew we had to help. Many of the challenges of getting supplies to communities involve manufacturing connections, supply chain hurdles, regulatory red tape, and logistical bottlenecks that have become our area of expertise over the last 25 years. To sit idle when the community is in need, while we have a way to help, would be unconscionable.
Therefore, we committed the entire resources of our international organization and our hundreds of staff to preserve and improve the health and safety of our first responders, seniors, and our communities as a whole.
We lose money every day that we are open, but we feel this is the right thing to do. As new facts emerge, our policies and prices will evolve, but our commitment to the health of Canadians will be unshakable. We are not perfect but we are doing our best. Thank you for your understanding.
Take care and more soon,
Frankly, we are a reluctant retailer trying to serve a public need, when it would be easier to close our doors.
Some pharmacies and grocery stores carried essential supplies before this crisis, but they mostly have no inventory left which is why shelves are empty and webpages show "out of stock" with obsolete low prices. Retailers can no longer buy at these "regular" costs, due to the worldwide cost increases and shortages (see below).
We do not price gouge. Our prices are based on the cost we currently pay on the global market, and that formula has not changed before or since this health crisis began. These prices do not even cover our costs of inventory, mall rent, and wages, and so we lose money every day that we are open.
We know some are upset at the high prices, and so are we. We are stuck in the middle, and every time we find a lower-priced factory or a more affordable freight route, we pass the savings on with lower prices. We expect prices to fall quickly as manufacturers ramp up production. Please bear with us.
We call on Canada's big retailers to use their resources to get Canadians the essential supplies they need, including paying more to factories to keep their shelves full. That would make us much happier as it will serve a much greater public service than anything we can do in our small store.
Honestly, not only are we stuck in the middle, but frankly we are scared and tired. Every day our staff are torn between staying safe at home and overcoming our own and our families’ fear to serve our communities out in the public. We could just close our doors, but we are trying to help those in need, including with lower prices for first responders and seniors. Every complaint that we get about price gouging takes us one step closer to closing our doors and that means that these essential goods would not make it to our communities and would be sold to other countries at these higher prices.
Manufacturers are charging massive cost increases and will not negotiate and have thousands of other companies around the world ready to buy their stock at any price. If Canadian companies don't bid for this inventory, Canada will not get its fair share of these essential supplies.
- See this article: "In America, states are bidding against one another for masks priced as much as 10 times the usual cost of 60¢ to 80¢ apiece." https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-03-25/3m-doubled-production-of-n95-face-masks-to-fight-coronavirus
Our vendors are paying 87% more for isopropyl alcohol for hand sanitizer, leading to supply shortages and worldwide bidding wars.
- See this mind-boggling chart: https://www.icis.com/explore/resources/news/2020/03/19/10484600/us-ipa-prices-soar-on-rising-global-demand-and-supply-shortage
We are paying 307% more for bottled hand sanitizer vs. a typical retail price, even though we are ordering truckloads.
We are paying 1,705% more in freight as components and inventory are being shipped by air instead of by water, and air rates have skyrocketed due to flight restrictions and higher demand.
- See this article: "shipping costs have nearly doubled, compared with typical rates.": https://www.wired.com/story/airlines-use-empty-passenger-jets-ease-cargo-crunch/
The US dollar is 15% more expensive since Jan 1 and this directly affect costs because most purchases are made in $US.
- See this article: "The Canadian dollar is already at a four-year low and its value could drop below 70 cents compared to the U.S. dollar." https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/loonie-currency-oil-covid-19-1.5500421
Mask costs have risen 10x due to bidding wars and global demand.
- See this article: "Face masks for front-line staff, normally about 58 cents each, have been quoted by sellers at $7.50, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office." https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-24/for-new-york-58-cent-medical-masks-now-priced-at-7-50-each
- Supplying Hospitals, First Responders, and seniors with essential supplies, including with special discounts, higher quantity limits, and designated hours in stores
- Donating supplies directly to hospitals, for example hundreds of units to Windsor Hospital on Mar 25
- Supplying Canada's largest national home health care organization with essential supplies directly
- Supplying and reaching out to Seniors' Homes/Assisted Living with essential supplies directly
- Awarded Health Canada COVID-19 Site Licence #COV0045 to import and distribute essential items that are not being produced fast enough or in sufficient quantities by Canadian companies. This will enable Canada to receive lower-cost supplies from other countries.
- Awarded Health Canada Medical Device Establishment License #11606 to import and distribute essential items that are not being produced fast enough or in sufficient quantities by Canadian companies.
Qualified as an essential service, as confirmed by the Ontario Premier's Office and Ministry of Health (Ontario), as per the following designated service types:
- #1: "businesses that supply other essential businesses"
- #2: "businesses engaged in the retail and wholesale sale of ... household consumer products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences and businesses"
- #10: "safety supply stores ...e.g. ... Personal Protective Equipment"
- #53: "retailers of ... medical supplies"
- #55: "businesses that provide products and/or services that support the health sector ..."
- #70: "businesses that support the safe operations of residences and essential businesses"
- Working with Government of Canada to supply masks (including N95 & Surgical), sanitizers and gloves directly to the government.
- Working with National Research Council (NRC) to improve the supply of essential goods in Canada
- Working with Provincial Governments including Ontario Together's initiative (submission #2401734) directly so we are connected directly with organizations that require essential goods
- Mandatory social distancing and regular in-store sanitation including repeated hand sanitizing, wiping down surfaces, avoiding social product demonstrations, and social distancing measures to separate customers in checkout lineups. In addition, plexiglass screens are being installed in stores to protect our staff and customers at checkouts
- Reduced operating hours in stores by roughly 20%, in coordination with mall landlords and where prudent, to minimize social contact between staff and customers, and to minimize multi-staff shifts to reduce social contact
- Mandated any staff member who shows any COVID-19 symptoms, or who has traveled outside Canada in the last 14 days, to immediately go home, seek medical treatment if necessary, and quarantine themselves for a minimum of 14 days, and closing any store where staff are uncomfortable or unable to work
- $500,000 in financial assistance made available to staff, including vacation pay and sick pay benefits, higher pay and pay protection for front-line staff
- Closed our Head Office as of Mar 19 and arranged IT services to allow a work-from-home environment to serve customers and stores without social contact