Another day, another store discontinuing double coupons. In what’s becoming a troubling trend, yet another Midwestern chain has decided to do away with doubles in some locations. This time, it’s Meijer, which is being oddly secretive about its decision.
Over the weekend, signs such as the one pictured above (as posted on Meijer’s Facebook page) began appearing in some Meijer stores in Michigan and Indiana. Confused customers, who were blindsided by the news, took to Meijer’s Facebook page for clarification. Meijer offered this response:
“It’s true that we are eliminating double coupons in our Battle Creek, Lansing, Ft. Wayne and South Bend Markets. As a course of business, we will continue to evaluate other markets to determine the appropriate coupon strategy for that specific market based on our opportunity to reinvest in low prices across all of our items. Double coupons only affect a certain percentage of items. We believe that investing in lower prices across the store is more of a benefit to our customers. We will still accept coupons at face value, and are still offering great savings with everyday low prices, weekly specials and mPerks digital coupons.”
The changes will take effect on March 30th, “in an effort to keep our everyday prices as low as possible.” But aside from scattered, boilerplate responses to Facebook commenters, Meijer has not made any official statement about the decision. When asked by some commenters for a list of affected stores, Meijer said, cryptically, “we’re not able to share a full list at this time.” Meijer also has not responded to requests from Coupons in the News for further clarification.
Meijer’s move comes as it trumpets the success of its mPerks program (read: “Loyal to Digital Coupons, Without a Loyalty Card: Meijer Marks Millionth mPerks Member”). It also comes shortly after Meijer’s competitor Kroger eliminated double coupons in southwestern Ohio and northern Kentucky (read: “Kroger Offers New Lower Prices! Oh, And No More Double Coupons”). But curiously, it appears that Meijer stores in Ohio will continue to offer double coupons (though two Meijer locations in northern Kentucky quietly stopped doubling this past weekend). So Meijer will stay a step ahead of Kroger there.
But it’s a step behind Kroger in other locations. In Fort Wayne, Indiana, one of the areas in which Meijer will discontinue doubling, Kroger recently shifted from triple to double coupons, giving Meijer a bit of breathing room – it’s unlikely Meijer would accept coupons at face value only, if its closet competitor was still tripling them. In Michigan, in locations where Meijer is ending double coupons, Kroger says it plans to keep its own double coupon policies in place. When asked if Kroger would expand its new no-doubles policy beyond the Cincinnati and Dayton areas, a Kroger spokesman recently assured the Detroit Free Press that there’s been “no conversation or discussion about it happening in Michigan.”
As for Meijer, this is not the first time it’s discontinued doubles. A number of locations haven’t offered doubles in quite a while. In Muskegon, Michigan, for example, Meijer stopped the practice way back in 1990. “It’s a very expensive promotion,” a store spokesman said at the time.
So is this yet another sign that double coupons are on their way out? Since double coupons first came on the scene some 40 years ago, they’ve fallen in and out of favor. One analyst speculated that stores were “sorry they are in double coupons” at all, and have been looking for ways to “get themselves out of it” (read more about the history of double coupons here: “The Death of Doubles?”). But others find them to be a valuable promotional tool, and still others have tried discontinuing doubles, only to reinstate them (read: “Double Coupons: Dying Like Dinosaurs?”).
In the age of Walmart and digital coupons, though, things could be different this time. Walmart is the biggest and most successful competitor to most grocery stores – and in most locations, it doesn’t double coupons at all. In order to compete with Walmart on price, and offer digital savings like Meijer’s mPerks and Kroger’s digital coupon program, something has to give. And double coupons appear to be the loser.
Or, perhaps, the double-coupon loving customer is.