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The Toronto Star reports that Loblaws will open its first gas station in the Toronto area this week,, a 12-pump unit that will add fuel to the competitive fires in Canada.

The company has said that its gas station will offer the lowest fuel prices in the market, and also will offer coupons that can be used to discount purchases inside the main store.

The company has said that the gas stations it is opening are part of its strategy of moving beyond food into “everyday household needs.” Analysts tell the Star that Loblaws’ fuel stations are a way of driving traffic, not generating profits. While the company operates gas stations elsewhere in Canada, including at its Real Canadian Superstore locations, the need to be more competitive in this area has been driven by Wal-Mart introduction of gas stations selling fuel below cost on several of its properties in Canada.
KC's View:
Funny how so much comes back to Wal-Mart…

There was an interesting Op-Ed piece in Sunday’s edition of The New York Times in which columnist Tom Friedman argued for greater gasoline conservation as a way of choking off the Middle East’s hold on the American psyche. The less we need their gas, he said, the less influence that region has over our domestic and foreign policy.

We only mention this because if what Friedman suggests actually were to become a national trend, all these retailers that are using gasoline to drive traffic into their stores suddenly would be looking at investments that would be less valuable than originally intended.

So, what retailers are investing in the development of alternative energy options? And which ones will be well positioned to make a killing if ever a shift away from oil dependence actually takes place?

We have no answers…only questions. But it seems clear that something has to change when it comes to oil dependence, and that the implications will be many and far ranging.