Kroger-Harris Teeter logos

As late as Monday night, Harris Teeter and Kroger were still negotiating their deal that was announced early Tuesday morning (read: “Sold! Kroger Buys Harris Teeter”). Meanwhile, Kroger’s Central Division had, much earlier, decided to announce its new lower prices (and oh, by the way, no more double coupons) on Tuesday morning (read: “Kroger Keeps on Killing Doubles”).

So for Harris Teeter fans, it was an unfortunate coincidence that Kroger announced it was acquiring their coupon-friendly grocery chain, at the exact same time that yet another Kroger division was eliminating double coupons.

That sent Harris Teeter couponers into a tizzy. One of the most common concerns expressed on Harris Teeter’s Facebook page over the past 24 hours is that the coupon policy will change. “PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not change the coupon policy!” one commenter wrote. “I am going to be very upset if Kroger makes Harris Teeter follow their coupon policy, and no longer does the Super Doubles or Triples coupon weeks,” said another. “Our best couponing happens at Harris Teeter, our WORST with Kroger, so which policy will you follow?” asked a third.

Harris Teeter wasn’t talking to media yesterday, and it wasn’t saying much to customers either. It responded to concerns with a link to a statement to shoppers, in which the company president promises there will be few changes. The Harris Teeter name, private label products and store-level employees are all expected to stay the same.

“Conveniently,” one Facebook commenter pointed out in response, “no mention of the coupon policy and coupon promotions remaining the same.”

Kroger isn’t offering any clues, either. But when it comes to double coupons, it’s worth noting that Kroger says it’s up to each individual division to decide whether to do away with them. Kroger executives claimed last month that after one division tried it, other divisions saw how well it worked and decided on their own to do it too (read: “Kroger Confirms: All Doubles May Be Doomed”). While it’s clear that Kroger’s corporate office is fond of the idea, it’s supposedly not forcing it upon anyone.

So while there’s no guarantee that Kroger won’t play a Jedi mind trick on Harris Teeter and convince them that double and triple coupons are bad, Harris Teeter management will still have a say about what kind of coupon policy they want. In fact, Kroger appears to believe it has more to learn from the way Harris Teeter does business, than the other way around. Kroger executives have cited Harris Teeter’s fresh offerings, private-label products and its online ordering service as areas Kroger might be able to learn from, in order to improve its own stores.

But maybe, just maybe, Kroger will be able to help bring some of Harris Teeter’s higher prices down.

“We face a very difficult competitive environment, especially from price discounters such as Walmart, Aldi and Food Lion,” Harris Teeter’s president wrote in an internal memo to employees, which was obtained by the Charlotte News & Observer. “To compete effectively, size and scale do matter.”

Kroger isn’t talking prices though, or coupons, any time soon. “Once this merger is complete and we actually have the ability to sit down with their management team and develop plans on how to run the company on a joint basis, we’ll make those decisions,” Kroger CFO Michael Schlotman told investors Tuesday. “But we can in no way, shape or form have those conversations or thoughts today.”

Harris Teeter shoppers are having exactly those conversations and thoughts, though. And they’ll be listening, as soon as Kroger and Harris Teeter are ready to talk.

3 Comments

  1. I never really shopped much at harris teeter until double super coupon. I now use Harris Teeter all the time. the staff is much more pleasant then letsay a Walmart or Food Lion. I would rather pay a little extruring the week knowing in the middle of the week I get a great discount.If Harris Teeter stop doing super double like Kroger I may have to find a new store to shop at. I came from Pennsylvania Kroger was all around Pennsylvania and West Virginia. I can honestly say I never really use them unless it was an emergency.

  2. Linda Sitterson says:

    Why is their no krogers in central fl?

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