For some time now, I couldn’t put my finger on the feeling that overwhelms me every time I spend money. I couldn’t name my emotion. I used to enjoy shopping, whether it was for shoes, furniture, books, or food. I’m one of the few in my circle who liked going to the grocery store regularly. I think it’s money well spent to feed your family, at least its more enjoyable than so many other mandatory expenses

Wondering around a shopping center made me feel happy and relaxed. Walking the aisles of a store for inspiration filled me with peace, took my mind off my worries. During the holidays, hearing the music and seeing all the people buying presents or planning great meals made me feel part of something so much bigger. I liked the cacophony of malls and packed stores, it meant people were alive and contributing to the economy.

I travelled a great deal for most of my jobs, even now I travel a lot; I used to tell my coworkers and my friends “let’s go add money to the local economy.” I always got something to remind me I had the chance to be in that particular city. I have Christmas tree ornaments from many cities in Canada, many regions of Québec, and from all over the world. I have spices and clothes from many places as well.

I used to get a high from spending my hard-earned money, an impression of living my full life. At some point I worked so much that spending money was the only activity outside work I had, that and driving my car to and from work. I was working at DND (Department of National Defense) at the time, and it was connected to the Rideau Center in Ottawa, so it was convenient for me to take a 30 minutes vacation, get a pair of shoes and go back to work happy and relaxed.

But for the last couple of years, I have the blues when I go shopping. The pandemic did not help and almost killed my spending spirit. Shopping on my computer in my living room or at my desk in my house is not an experience for me. I don’t get to see people, smell new clothes, taste new products or experience store ambiance from my computer. Yes, I can tell when other people are buying the same products that I’m looking at, some store selling system tells me that there are only two items left in my size, but I can’t see how it fits on them like when we are all at the fitting room looking at one another while parading for our friends. It’s not the same at all. Prices aren’t just higher now. They’re through the roof. I can’t believe that clothes that I used to pay 50$ are now 75$. Basic products have all gone up way too much from what I think I should pay.

It has ruined my experience; I’m exasperated and getting angry at the prices. I lose all the satisfaction of buying because everything cost too much. At first, I bought in to the pressure on the supply chain excuse to justify the higher prices. But now we know that many companies in the food industry are making record profits without even a cursory concern for consumers having to pay more, do without and have tough decisions to make each month simply to make ends meet. I’m mad about it.

I look more than ever at pricing, with everything so much more expensive that I feel deprived of my choices. If pricing dictates everything, choice is essentially eliminated.

When I’m not mad, I now have the blues every time I need to buy something because it stresses me out to always be worried about my spending. I know I was lucky in the past when I could just follow my budget and not think too much about money.

I wish that collectively, we are not going to get used to seeing prices go up all the time. There must be a way to make large profitable companies understand that they’re making these record profits on the backs of struggling families.

Take this state from the Institute for Socio-economic Research and Information (IRIS) published in August 2022:

Canadian corporate profits have increased by more than 10% over the past four quarters, representing $91 billion in additional net profits. “Unlike households, whose wages are stagnating, companies seem to have largely taken advantage of the inflationary environment to raise their prices. This maneuver would have allowed them to reap record profits while contributing to the acceleration of inflation,” argues Guillaume Hébert, researcher at IRIS and co-author of the sheets.

I guess my blues will remain for a while… But blues and anger are a potent force which is why we are watching food prices so closely at C3FC and why this year we’re going to be more aggressive, passionate and relentless is raising food affordability issues. Join us and help spread our message!