Islanders in Guernsey and Jersey may not see any money back from their Co-op shops in 2023.
The Channel Islands Co-operative Society says several factors have put a strain on the business and its profitability, so the reward scheme - known as dividend - may either be suspended or reduced for 2023.
Members will vote on the proposal at an AGM in May.
CEO Mark Cox says it was a really difficult call to make:
"We’re all aware of significant challenges around from the economic climate, that every business and every household is facing at the moment. From high inflation, Brexit, and the conflicts that we've seen worldwide.
Despite all of our efforts in 2023, we’ve seen that operating profits are sadly reduced, and we’ve got to face that."
Mr Cox says any decision to reduce or scrap the percentage back of what shareholders’ spend in store will be reviewed annually, as in other businesses that offer dividend:
"In the business world, this isn't unusual, but what we do acknowledge is that it is unprecedented for the Co-op to do.
Of course, the board would review dividend and the share of profits at the end of the next financial year, and we’re optimistic about the year ahead and would hope that we would be able to return to paying some form of dividend in the future."
He adds that the company has 'resisted increasing prices' in-store:
"What we are proud about is the investment that we put into member pricing.
In the years gone by that has seen an investment of over two million into protecting members from rising cost prices."
Carl Walker from Jersey Consumer Council says the decision will affect many people;
Looks like @CI_Coop customers in Jersey (and Guernsey too?) could be going without the dividend they have saved all last year for, due to tough trading conditions. I know many rely on this for Christmas or give to charities. Impact going to be significant. pic.twitter.com/GaPVkmpLAW— Consumer Carl (@CarlWalker7) February 6, 2024
Social justice charity Caritas said on social media it has already been contacted by numerous clients 'in fury'.
"Many work their divvy into their (limited) budgets and this is yet another hit to them."