Like Sherman’s March to the Sea, Kroger’s campaign against double coupons has now reached the heart of Dixie. According to multiple sources, the Atlanta Division, which encompasses stores in Georgia, South Carolina and parts of Alabama outside the Huntsville area, will be the latest Kroger division to do away with double coupons, effective September 22nd. Kroger is not denying the news, but not confirming it either, as it sticks to its planned public announcement scheduled for tomorrow afternoon (be sure to read this update: “Kroger Confirms Southern Double Coupon Decision”).
Oh, but there will be “new lower prices” to make up for the lack of doubles. You know the drill by now.
For many Kroger shoppers who’ve grown accustomed to seeing similar stories over the course of the past year, it’s largely been a question of not if, but when it would happen in their stores. Kroger has not quite said that it plans to eradicate the practice of doubling coupons altogether, claiming that each individual division can make its own decision. But it has made it clear what decision it expects each division will make. Independently, that is, of course (read: “Kroger Confirms: All Doubles May Be Doomed”).
The Atlanta Division would now become the sixth Kroger region to do away with doubles this year alone. It was preceded by the Cincinnati/Dayton, Mid-Atlantic, Delta and Central Divisions, plus Kroger-owned Dillons. Kroger stores in Texas and Kroger-owned Ralphs blazed the trail, when they eliminated doubling in 2011 and 2012, respectively. All have promised price cuts across the store, mentioning the corresponding discontinuation of doubling almost as an afterthought.
With nearly 200 stores spread across three states, the Atlanta Division is one of Kroger’s largest – behind only the Southwest Division, based in Houston, and Ralphs’ 240 stores in California. The Atlanta Division is also a region where Kroger faces some steep competition. Florida-based Publix operates throughout the region, and is rapidly expanding. While Publix doesn’t double coupons in its home state of Florida, it does double in the states where Kroger operates.
At least for now. Kroger’s campaign against double coupons has emboldened some of its competitors to follow suit. Shortly after Kroger regions in the Midwest started doing away with doubles, Michigan-based Meijer decided to do the same (read: “‘We Are the 5%': Meijer Fans Protest Double Coupon Decision”). On the one hand, offering double coupons gives a chain like Publix a competitive advantage against a non-doubling Kroger and the similarly non-doubling elephant in the room, Walmart. On the other hand, why keep funding an expensive promotion if your biggest competitors no longer are?
If your Kroger region hasn’t done away with doubles yet, and you’re wondering whether it will, keep your eye on your weekly ad. Sharp-eyed shoppers in many affected regions noticed that any mention of double coupons mysteriously disappeared from their circular just before their stores announced that doubling would be ending. This past Sunday, the words “double coupons” vanished from the Atlanta Division’s ads. Unfortunately, the way things are going, it may be only a matter of time before they fade away from all Kroger ads for good.