(June 9 update: It’s happened again – now the Columbus division, which covers Central and Northwest Ohio and the rest of West Virginia, has announced that it will do away with its senior discount, effective June 21.)

(May 31 update: The Louisville division, which incorporates the rest of Kentucky, along with southern Indiana and Illinois, has become the latest to lower prices and eliminate the senior discount. The last day for seniors to get their 5% discount there is Thursday, June 22.)

(May 4 update: Kroger has now announced that it is lowering prices and ending the senior discount in most of the Mid-Atlantic division as well, effective May 23. Affected are all Kroger locations in Virginia, most of West Virginia and a few stores just over the border in Kentucky, Ohio and East Tennessee. North Carolina, which is in the Mid-Atlantic division, is not affected by the changes, and the senior discount there will continue.)

Kroger withstood the criticism from couponers, after doing away with double coupons. But can it survive the wrath of discount-loving senior citizens, after eliminating their favorite perk?

The nation’s largest supermarket chain is eliminating another senior discount day promotion, this time in its Atlanta division. Atlanta is Kroger’s largest division by store count, with 186 Kroger locations throughout Georgia, South Carolina and eastern Alabama.

“We have lowered prices, again, on thousands of products throughout the store,” Atlanta division spokesman Felix Turner said in a statement. “As a result, we are discontinuing a smaller targeted discount program – Senior Day.”

May 17th will be the last day the promotion is offered. It’s the third time in the past few months that a Kroger division has done away with the popular discount. In Houston, stores offered shoppers 60 years and older a 10% discount on Kroger-brand products. In the Nashville and Atlanta divisions, seniors got 5% off their total grocery bill every Wednesday.

Other divisions that currently offer senior discounts are unaffected – for now. Some divisions never offered a discount at all, so the promotion was never as widespread as double coupons, which all Kroger divisions once offered.

But the falling of the senior discount dominoes is starting to look suspiciously like what happened with double coupons. One by one, over the past several years, Kroger divisions started promising lower prices and eliminating double coupons in the process.

And now, one by one, the same appears to be happening with senior discounts – beginning in the very same place where double coupons first met their demise.

Houston was the first division to eliminate doubles back in 2011 – and it was the first to eliminate its senior discount this past February. “Over the years the marketplace has evolved,” a Kroger spokesperson said at the time. “As a result, there are programs we’ve added, modified, or ended.”

Nashville was next, with a double whammy. The last division that still doubled coupons announced in February that it would eliminate both double coupons and the senior discount at the same time. “We want all customers to save every day, without regard to shopping day or time required to search out coupons,” a Kroger spokesperson said in a statement.

And now it’s Atlanta. And don’t be surprised if another division is next.

Kroger still has plenty of price promotions, but it’s increasingly been turning to everyday low prices on popular items as a way to get more shoppers through its doors. It’s part of a strategy to compete with the likes of Walmart, its everyday-low-priced competitor, which has been aggressively cutting its own prices even lower.

And in order for Kroger to afford lower prices, something else – like double coupons and senior discounts – has to give.

Besides, with all of the data that stores like Kroger have on us these days, and the trend toward more personalized promotions, a one-size-fits-all discount relying only on one factor – a shopper’s age – may simply be outdated now.

“There is no doubt, several competitors are improving and running better stores,” Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen acknowledged to investors last month. So “we’re really doubling down on the customer experience,” he explained. “What we find is certain customers are interested in price, but all they want is a fair price.”

So its customers, Kroger reasons, would rather not have to clip coupons or shop on a certain day in order to save money – they’d rather know that they’re getting good deals without much effort on their part at all.

“Kroger is committed to creating an exceptional shopping experience for all our customers,” Turner said of the latest change in Atlanta. “These new lower prices on thousands of items will make the shopping experience easier and a greater value for all Kroger shoppers.”

Easier, perhaps, in that seniors won’t need to plan their shopping on a certain day of the week anymore. Whether it proves to be a greater value without that discount – only time will tell.

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13 Comments

  1. Allen Clarke says:

    I thought Kroger had a special respect for Seniors….I guess not so much…..it’s their bottom line is all that is important to them….as is all other retailers…I for one will shop at Meijer’s and Walmart….better stores for my needs…plus more locations in my neighborhood….Kroger’s regular prices are much higher than Walmart and a little more competitive with Meijer…

  2. I think this is Horrible for the seniors. My grandmother depends on this Every Thursday. I’ve been taking her for a while. The senior discount day use to be Wednesdays then Thursdays, Now NO DAYS at all. Its already bad enough for the seniors.

  3. All the more reason to shop by items. No more loyalty or convenience shopping. Wine and paper towels at Sprouts, organic chicken and maple syrup at Costco. Fresh baked bread at Whole Foods, etc. Farmers market for prodce. Local when possible.

  4. I have been shopping at Kroger for 60 years and just think this is ridculous . Seniors are on limited Budget anyway so every little bit of help is always nice. But nobody cares until they get to that age and then they have to deal with it. As far as lowering prices I haven’t seen that much stuff that is lowered.

  5. Donna Rhodes says:

    This is awful I hope Kroger realizes some of the seniors are just barely making it and you want to make it harder for them. Whoever, thought obviously knows nothing about seniors having to cut back already so they can afford groceries and prescriptions. Shame on you Kroger I hope your business losses proffit.

  6. Just one more reason to not shop at kroger. Im fed up anyway. The way they bag groceries is atrocious. Plus they sell old meats. I started shopping at Food Depot

  7. 5% senior discount was a joke to being with and didn’t amount to much so no big deal. I agree..if these was decent competitor close by that was more convenient..I’d be shopping there too. Produce and meet and sad for a company the size of Krogers. Could never figure out how the much smaller grocers are doing it but if they can do it, certainly so can Kroger

  8. Helena Goregore says:

    Pitiful !!!!

  9. Some new young executive is probably getting a nice bonus for suggesting this “budget cut”

  10. Betty Ann Perrine says:

    The Senior Discount Day is one of only two reasons why I’ve continued to shop at Kroger….the other is their gas discount program. If that goes away too, I’ll be heading to WalMart or Publix in a NY minute because their produce and meat selections are superior to what Kroger has been putting out the past two years. I wonder if the “powers that be” understand that most Seniors don’t have access to online coupons etc. and many can’t afford to have daily newspaper delivery to get published coupons?? The only plus for me is that I won’t HAVE to go grocery shopping on Wednesday! Kroger is digging it’s own grave I’m afraid.

  11. 5% disc for seniors, MANY on limited income, is a big deal to them. BAD decision by Kroger. Their prices are not cheaper, perfect example is Campbell’s Chunky Brand Soup sells for $2.19 regularly, Walmart sells it for $1.54 all the time. I could mention more basic items if I did an analysis.

  12. Bob Bickford says:

    Prices are up (never came down after “cost of fuel” increases a few years ago, unit quantity per pkg is down, quality is down (cyrovac meats injected with ridiculous amount of water and excess cyrovac plastic per pkg is not ‘tare’ reduced when priced. Kroger spokesperson is so out of touch. Response if from a 70 year old with 30 + years retail meat market experience.

  13. Robert Stewart says:

    “These new lower prices on thousands of items will make the shopping experience easier and a greater value for all Kroger shoppers.”

    The above was a comment from Felix Turner.

    By some chance Mr. Turner, do you happen to remember when JC Penney had the same philosophy regarding their pricing? Do you remember what happened to their business?

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