2024-02-29T10:01:43-05:00Apr 18, 2023|

A newcomer’s guide to retail shopping in Canada

As a newcomer, an important part of settling into your new life in Canada is creating a sense of comfort and familiarity in your home and surroundings—whether through furnishings, cuisine, clothing, or household goods. That said, newcomers often have tight budgets during their initial months. Knowing which stores you can turn to that offer the level of quality you expect at a budget-friendly price can help ease this process as you adapt to life in Canada.

While you’ll certainly discover the stores close to your home as you explore your neighbourhood, you should also be aware of options that may be more aligned with your personal taste, budget, and household needs. Here, we’ve provided a list of popular retail stores in Canada, including those that sell groceries, hardware, clothing, furniture, and more.

In this article:

Popular grocery stores in Canada

Tips Icon  Tip:The concept of Maximum Retail Price (or MRP) does not exist in Canada. It’s common to find the same item being sold at different prices in different stores, including different outlets owned by the same company.

Canada’s grocery industry is dominated by a handful of major players—Loblaws, Metro and Sobeys—that own a number of smaller chains operating across the country. Your grocery budget can vary significantly depending on where you shop, and most large chains tend to have discount subsidiaries that offer similar inventory for lower prices.


Loblaws is a well-known Canadian grocery store chain that has locations across Canada. Loblaws grocery stores are typically large in size, offering a wide assortment of groceries at reasonable prices, as well as an in-store pharmacy. Its in-house brands include President’s Choice (PC) and Blue Menu. A number of other store brands are part of the Loblaws family of grocery stores, including No Frills, Fortinos, T&T SuperMarket, FreshMart, and L’Intermarche.

No Frills

No Frills is Loblaws’ discount grocery chain, known for its basic grocery store design and budget-friendly pricing. It also has an affordable in-store line of grocery and household products called No Name that is available at all No Frills stores, as well as other Loblaws-owned grocery retailers.


Fortinos, also part of Loblaws, is known for its large upscale grocery stores that feature a bakery and wide assortment of products including a variety of international and ethnic products. Locations often include a pharmacy, dry cleaner, and dining area, and are in the Greater Toronto Area only.

FreshMart and L’Intermarche

FreshMart and L’Intermarche (in Quebec) are locally-owned grocery stores that are usually smaller in size and located in rural communities across Canada. They are affiliated with the Loblaws brand and, therefore, sell its in-house brands. Valu-Mart, similar to FreshMart, features small supermarkets in rural communities, but its stores are located in Ontario only.

T&T SuperMarket

The T&T SuperMarket chain, owned by Loblaws, sells primarily Asian foods and groceries at locations in B.C., Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec.


Metro is a large grocery store chain with almost 1,000 stores across Ontario and Quebec under the banners of Metro, Food Basics, Metro Plus, and Super C (in Quebec). Stores are typically large in size and sell a wide assortment of products to fit every family’s budget. Its discount supermarket, Food Basics offers lower priced products with locations only in Ontario.


Sobeys grocery stores are large format stores with a vast range of products to fit most budgets, including its in-house brands, Compliments and Panache. They are located across Canada (except Quebec), and also have supermarkets under different banners. Safeway stores, similar to Sobeys in size and product offerings, are located in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario.


FreshCo, also part of the Sobeys brand, sells groceries at discounted prices in stores across Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia.

IGA and Foodland

IGA and Foodland grocery stores are part of the Sobeys family of stores. IGA supermarkets are predominantly located in Alberta with some stores also located in small communities in B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario. Foodland has stores in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces that typically serve smaller, rural communities.

Popular super stores and department stores in Canada

Unlike grocery chains which typically only sell food and common household products, super stores offer a much larger inventory. Whether you’re in the market for electronics or furnishings, these department stores have you covered:


Costco sells a vast array of products including groceries, housewares, furnishings, clothes, electronics, toys, and more, including products by its own brand, Kirkland. The massive warehouse-style stores, located across Canada, are known for budget-friendly prices and bulk size groceries. Costco also offers pharmacy, vision testing, and car services at affordable prices. You’ll need access to sufficient storage space and a membership to shop at Costco stores. A Costco membership will cost you $60 per year for a Gold Star membership and $120 per year for an Executive membership, and it can be shared by two family members. 


Walmart stores are large open-concept super stores that sell a wide range of products at affordable prices, including: groceries, clothes, pharmacy goods, toys, electronics, household goods, seasonal products, and more. Stores are located across Canada, typically in suburban communities.

The Bay

The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), also called The Bay, is a department store with locations across Canada. The variety of products will vary depending on location, but all stores sell clothing, cosmetics, shoes, accessories, and household goods at prices ranging from reasonable to expensive. Some locations also sell furniture. The Bay has incorporated Zellers into some of its department stores (and online). This well-known Canadian brand sells everyday items ranging from clothes to household goods to seasonal goods, and more.

Popular clothing stores in Canada

Most newcomers choose to purchase weather-appropriate clothing after arriving in Canada. Whether you’re looking for gear that’ll help you withstand Canadian weather or professional outfits for interviews or your first job, you’ll find a wide range of clothing stores to fit different budgets. 


Mark’s (known as L’Équipeur in Quebec) sells comfortable, casual clothing, footwear, workwear, scrubs, and accessories. This can be a great source for winter wear at relatively affordable prices, and if you’re in a trade occupation, you can find durable work gear here as well. 


Winners stores sell discounted designer brand and quality clothing, shoes, and accessories for women, men, and children, with locations across Canada. Its sister store brand, HomeSense, sells an ever-changing variety of indoor and outdoor furnishings and housewares at discounted prices.

Marshalls Canada

Marshalls is a discount fashion retailer and part of the Winners brand. It sells a wide selection of brand name and quality wear clothes and accessories at 20 to 60 per cent lower than suggested retail prices.


Aritzia is a trendy women’s wear clothing store specializing in “everyday luxury” with locations across Canada. This popular chain has been around in Canada for over 70 years and offers merchandise to fit different budgets. 

Sport Chek

Sport Chek sells all things sports-related from leisure clothing and outerwear to boots, skates and sports equipment. The store is a great source for winter coats, boots and outdoor gear at reasonable prices. 


Many newcomers are familiar with the Decathlon brand, which has a presence in 56 countries, including Canada. Although the chain is typically known for sporting goods, it also sells durable low-priced winter gear, ranging from jackets and shoe shoes, to mittens and hats.


Browns is a high quality shoe store known for its assortment of brand name shoes and boots. It also sells shoes under a separate banner called B2, which leans toward trendier footwear styles. Prices range from average to expensive.  

Foot Locker

Foot Locker is a global store brand that caters to sneaker and youth culture. It sells an assortment of sneakers, athletic wear, and accessories at locations across Canada.  


H&M is an international fashion brand with stores across Canada. The company sells affordable trendy fashion pieces and wardrobe essentials, accessories, and workout wear for the whole family.  


Zara is an international fashion company with stores across Canada that sell trendy fashions for women, men, and children at reasonable prices. Products for the home are also available online. 

Oshkosh B’gosh

Oshkosh is popular children’s clothing brand with a presence across most Canadian provinces. For newcomers with kids, these stores are a great place to find reasonably priced winter gear and shoes for babies, toddlers, and growing children.

information icon  Information: Winter jackets, parkas, and accessories can be quite expensive. For better discounts, consider buying them towards the end of the winter or during off-peak season. Budget-friendly winter wear brands include Uniqlo, The North Face, Columbia, Eddie Bauer, Patagonia, and Mountain Warehouse.

Popular furniture stores in Canada

As you begin looking for permanent accommodation to rent in Canada, you’ll also need to purchase furniture and furnishings to make yourself at home in your new space. These one-time purchases can be expensive, but if you know where to look, you should be able to find furniture that meets your budget. 


This global furniture store and brand offers affordable, high-quality home furnishings that are known for their minimalist and modern style. IKEA furniture almost always requires assembly at home.

Leon’s Furniture

Leon’s Furniture is a Canadian company that sells a range of merchandise for the home, including furniture, major appliances, and electronics. Leon’s offers customers a guaranteed lowest price.

The Brick

The Brick is one of Canada’s largest furniture store brands. It sells quality household furniture, mattresses, appliances and home electronics at budget-friendly prices.  


EQ3 is a Canadian furniture brand with store locations in Canada’s major urban centres. Its quality furniture selection tends toward contemporary style and includes some high-end brands.


Bouclair stores across Canada offer furnishings and home accents at affordable prices that suit a range of personal styles from modern to traditional.


Wayfair is an online retailer that sells low-priced furniture and home decor products. Although the company doesn’t have physical stores in Canada, they offer a vast selection of items, including furniture, lighting, appliances, and storage products.

Popular hardware stores in Canada

As a newcomer, you may need to buy hardware or household products from time to time, for maintenance or to personalize your home. Here are some popular hardware stores where you can find the items you require:

Canadian Tire

Canadian Tire is known for selling hardware and much more. Its products include hardware and automotive products, household goods, small appliances, sporting goods, and seasonal products and furnishings. Prices are reasonable for the budget-conscious customer. 

Home Hardware

Home Hardware stores are typically smaller than the average big box store. It sells a selection of affordably priced hardware and household goods for home maintenance, and renovations, as well as its own line of house paint. 

Home Depot

Home Depot is a big box retailer that sells a huge selection of hardware goods along with products for home construction and renovations including lumber, flooring, cabinetry, paint, counters, lighting, and more. Prices are reasonable and geared toward the DIY homeowner.   


Rona sells a wide selection of hardware products for construction and home improvement in locations across Canada. Stores can range from big box to small, locally-owned stores. The hardware stores Lowe’s and Réno-Dépôt are also part of the Rona brand.

Tips Icon  Tip: Check your lease agreement before making cosmetic changes to rental units. Some agreements restrict the changes tenants can make, including but not limited to changing the wall paint, putting nails or screws in walls, changing fittings like taps and appliances.

Popular pharmacies in Canada

Although you’ll find local pharmacies in most neighbourhoods in Canada, large format pharmacy chains sell medication and much more. Not only can you get your prescriptions filled at these chains, you can also purchase over-the-counter medication, healthcare and beauty products, packaged food, and other household products.

Shoppers Drug Mart

With stores across Canada, Shoppers Drug Mart (Pharmaprix in Quebec) offers services of a full pharmacy and sells a wide assortment of healthcare and beauty products, a selection of groceries, and more. Owned by Loblaws, in-house brands such as President’s Choice, are also available at most locations. 


Pharmasave stores operate independently to serve local communities, providing the services of a pharmacy as well as selling healthcare and beauty products, a small selection of groceries, and more.  


Guardian, I.D.A., and Remedy’s Rx pharmacies are all part of the same company and each location includes a pharmacy along with a variety of healthcare and beauty products, a limited selection of groceries, and more. 


Rexall offers a full service pharmacy and sells a variety of healthcare and beauty products along with select groceries. The chain has over 400 stores across Canada.  

Jean Coutu

The Jean Coutu network has stores in Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario, offering customers pharmacy services, healthcare products, beauty products, and a selection of groceries. 

Dollar stores in Canada

The term “dollar store” is commonly used for stores that offer a wide range of low-cost products. Prices of items sold at these stores typically range from under $1 to $5, making them an attractive addition to your regular grocery shopping routine.


With over 1,400 stores across Canada and a presence in every province, Dollarama is the largest dollar store chain in the country. Their inventory includes snacks, party supplies, gardening equipment, kitchen essentials, arts and craft supplies, beauty basics, cleaning products, pet supplies, and more—all priced under $5. 

Dollar Tree

This popular dollar store has a presence in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. You can buy everyday items such as food and snacks, housewares, kitchen utensils, decor items, party supplies, and more. Most products at Dollar Tree are priced at $1.25 or $1.50.

Popular thrift stores in Canada

The concept of thrifting is becoming increasingly popular in Canada, as a way to be both cost-conscious and eco-friendly. As a newcomer, garage sales, flea markets, and thrift stores are excellent places to find gently used items for discounted prices.

Value Village

Value Village stores across Canada sell second-hand clothing and housewares that have been donated to its donation centres. 

Plato’s Closet

Plato’s Closet buys and sells gently used clothes, shoes and accessories. Its selection of second hand products includes well-known brands. The company also owns the following second stores: Once Upon a Child (children’s clothing and goods), Play it Again Sports (sporting goods), and Style Encore (women’s clothes).

Goodwill thrift store

Goodwill is a non-profit company with thrift stores in Ontario that sell second-hand clothing and household goods that were donated by individuals, then sold at bargain prices. Profits go toward Goodwill programs that help individuals from marginalized groups develop skills and find meaningful work.  

What is price matching? 

Some retailers in Canada, including No Frills, FreshCo, Home Depot, and Leon’s, offer price matching or price guarantees on their merchandise. This means the store guarantees its products are sold at the lowest price you’ll find anywhere (usually within a reasonable radius). Therefore, if you find the same item being sold at a lower price elsewhere, the store will match that price. 

Price matching may be offered in-store or online, however, you’ll have to prove you found a lower price at a different store. Some stores will offer a refund of the difference after your purchase if you can prove the item was available at a lower price at the time of purchase.

Be aware there are limitations to price matching. The items need to be identical and the guarantee is often restricted to stores in a given area, and within a window of time. Plus, some stores may stop price matching during sales events.

To make the most of price matching, review the flyers published by stores in your area to compare products and prices. You can also look for deals using an app like Flipp. Be sure to save the flyer or coupon featuring the lower product price, as you’ll need to show proof.

What are outlet stores?

If you’re looking for a selection of stores that sell merchandise at discounted prices, you may want to visit an outlet mall. Outlet stores, also called factory stores or factory outlets, are manufacturers that sell directly to consumers. It’s typical for a cluster of outlet stores to be located in one area or inside a mall. Here, you’ll often find brand names that sell their products at deep discounts because they’re last season’s stock or are “seconds” (which means they didn’t pass the brand’s quality standards). Outlet malls are ideal stomping grounds for finding deals as a newcomer.  

Popular food and grocery delivery apps in Canada

If you’re living in an area where there aren’t a lot of grocery or food options within walking distance, you may want to look into options available for food and grocery delivery in Canada. 

Keep in mind, most delivery options include service charges as well as voluntary tipping. Some apps may require a monthly membership fee that you need to pay, regardless of how many times you use the service each month. It’s a good idea to compare charges among apps to find the one most suitable for your budget and needs.

  • Food delivery apps: These apps can be downloaded on your phone to order menu items from local restaurants. Popular apps include Doordash, SkipTheDishes, and UberEats.
  • Grocery delivery apps: Most grocery stores in Canada offer delivery through the brand’s website or app. Sobey’s delivery can be done through Voilà and Loblaws delivery is through PC Express. For other grocery stores, visit their websites for details. Alternatively, you may wish to use a grocery delivery app that delivers from a wide variety of local grocery stores, like Instacart or Cornershop (owned by Uber). 

Retail loyalty programs in Canada

Customer loyalty programs can be a useful tool to help you save money, stick to a budget, and enjoy perks at the places you shop most. 

A customer loyalty program is created by a company such as a store, bank, or brand to reward its customers with points every time they make an eligible purchase. Points are added to your account when you present your personalized loyalty card (or bar code on a phone app) with your transaction. As your points accumulate, you increase your potential to earn discounts on purchases or even earn free products.

Some retail chains in Canada have their own loyalty programs, such as PC Optimum from Loblaws (also works at its subsidiary companies, including Shoppers Drug Mart), Triangle Rewards from Canadian Tire, The Hudson’s Bay rewards, and TJX Style + from Winners (also works at Marshalls and HomeSense). 

You can also use credit cards that offer loyalty points on a wide range of purchases, such as RBC Avion, Scene+, and AirMiles. Credit card loyalty points are often in addition to store-based loyalty programs, to help you maximize your total rewards.

As a newcomer settling into Canada, you’ll need to purchase many items, some on a one-off basis and others more regularly. In addition to the retail stores we’ve listed here, you can also make many purchases online or take a more sustainable approach and opt for gently-used second-hand items. Newcomers can also help promote small businesses and by shopping at local stores rather than at big-box outlets. Regardless of where and how you make purchases, knowing where you can find things you need is a crucial step towards adapting to life in your new country.