This is getting a bit tiresome, but here we go – Kroger is eliminating double coupons again, in yet another region.
This time, it’s the Central Division, which incorporates Indiana and Illinois, as well as a few stray stores in Missouri, Michigan and Ohio. The double coupons will end after July 31st; the “new lower prices” that will make up for the lack of doubles will take effect this Thursday.
This makes the fourth Kroger division to do away with doubles this year. The Cincinnati/Dayton, Mid-Atlantic and Delta Divisions replaced their double coupon policies with price cuts across the store, following the lead of Texas Kroger stores and Kroger-owned Ralphs, which eliminated double couponing last year.
The move comes as little surprise, since Kroger has been claiming the change has proved popular – among its own management, if not with customers. Just a couple of weeks ago, at Kroger’s annual shareholders meeting, Kroger executives said swapping double coupons for lower prices “has worked exactly the way we hoped” and suggested that it was only a matter of time before other Kroger regions made the same move (read: “Kroger Confirms: All Doubles May Be Doomed”).
The only interesting new wrinkle is that Kroger has apparently revised upward, its incredibly lowball estimate of how many customers took advantage of double coupons in the first place. When wiping out doubles in the other regions earlier this year, Kroger claimed only about one percent of its customers would be affected by the loss of doubles. So lowering prices across the board was meant to appeal to more customers than just the double coupon fans. But that only raised the question, if so few shoppers took advantage of double coupons, how would eliminating the perk allow for such huge cost savings to help pay for such a large-scale price reduction?
So Kroger has changed its tune, a bit. Double coupons are used by less than 7 percent of customers, Kroger spokesman John Elliott now says. But, he adds, “that number has been trending down for years.” So he says the company reviewed loyalty card purchase data to help select popular items on which to lower prices. It’s also offering lower prices on “healthier products” – like, conveniently, its own private label Simple Truth products. Indeed, many of the new lower prices introduced in other Kroger regions have been on Kroger’s own products – all the better to boost the bottom line.
The news comes on the same day that Kroger announced it’s buying the Harris Teeter chain, which could prove to be of particular concern for shoppers there (read: “Sold! Kroger Buys Harris Teeter”), though Kroger claims no changes – coupon-related or otherwise – are imminent.
Some annoyed shoppers in other Kroger regions have vowed to take their business elsewhere, to chains that still double coupons. But Central Division shoppers have few such options. Local stores like Marsh (read: “The Death of Doubles?”) and Meijer (read: “Double Coupons Keep on Dying”) have already done away with double coupons in the region. So it’s a level playing field, for now – until someone comes along with an idea that could help them stand out from the competition. By, say, offering double coupons.
At least we can hope.