Thrifty Foods, IGA and other grocery chains scrapping Air Miles rewards

Thrifty Foods, IGA and other grocery chains scrapping Air Miles rewards
Photo credit: Nicholas Pescod

“Do you have Air Miles” is a common question heard in Thrifty Foods checkout lanes. But just like the loyalty program, it’s about to expire.

The grocery chain with locations across Vancouver Island has announced that it’s ending its partnership with Air Miles and will instead be ready for takeoff with Scene+.

Thrifty’s parent company Empire began transitioning from Air Miles to Scene+ in Atlantic Canada last August and is continuing across the rest of the country, culminating in early 2023, according to a post online.

Empire also owns other chains like Sobeys, IGA and FreshCo, and will make the change in all of its grocery, pharmacy, liquor and convenience stores, as well as online. Thrifty Foods locations are found on Vancouver Island from Greater Victoria to Campbell River, while an IGA is in Port McNeill. 

READ ALSO: Canadian families will pay $1,065 more for groceries in 2023, report says

Both Air Miles and Scene+ have more than 10-million members, with the latter described by Empire as “one of Canada’s leading lifestyle loyalty programs,” offering members “opportunities to earn and redeem points when and how they want to be rewarded.”

In addition to Empire’s stores, Scene points can be redeemed through Expedia, select restaurants, and Cineplex theatres, as well as through partnerships with brands like Apple and Best Buy. 

Air Miles collectors, meanwhile, earn Reward Miles at more than 300 Canadian, global and online brands. But the stock price of Air Miles’ parent company, Loyalty Ventures, has taken a nosedive in the past year, plummeting by 94 per cent. Over the past fiscal year, the company’s stock soared as high as $34.17 per share, but has since touched down at a current $0.71.

The rewards program switch comes amid ongoing food inflation, which analysts say Canadians won’t be able to escape any time soon. 

In December, the 13th edition of Canada’s Food Price Report predicted food prices across the country would continue to climb in the new year, with grocery costs forecast to rise to seven per cent in 2023. 

For a family of four, the total annual grocery bill is expected to be $16,288 — $1,065 more than it was this year, the report said.

More information about Empire’s partnership shakeup with the company is online here.

-With files from The Canadian Press

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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