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Kroger New Bern Ave Raeligh, NC

As Kroger continues its campaign of eliminating double coupons region by region, many shoppers are resigned to the apparent inevitability that it’s only a matter of time until the entire chain does away with doubles. The company hasn’t said what its long term plans are, but now company officials are offering their biggest hint yet, about what’s to come.

Let’s just say, it’s about what you might expect.

Kroger held its annual shareholder meeting in its hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio today. Curiously, none of the shareholders – those with the biggest stake in the company’s success – were interested in asking about the repercussions from Kroger’s discontinuation of double coupons in three parts of the country, this year alone.

Clearly, they’re not couponers.

Afterwards, though, several local reporters got a chance to speak with company officials. And they were told that Kroger’s crusade against double coupons will most likely continue.

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CEO David Dillon told the Cincinnati Business Courier’s Steve Watkins that he expects additional Kroger divisions to follow the lead of the Cincinnati/Dayton Division, the Mid-Atlantic Division and the Delta Division, all of which eliminated double coupons this year in favor of “new lower prices” (read: “Kroger Eliminates More Double Coupons”). Kroger stores in Texas, and Kroger-owned Ralphs in California, did the same back in 2011.

“Customers have changed in the last 10 or 15 years,” Dillon said. “They like the fact that we lowered everyday and some promotional pricing. To pay for that, we had to give up something that benefited a very narrow segment of our customers. We made the decision to benefit 100 people instead of one. It made sense.”

“We’ve lowered prices at Kroger every year for ten years,” Dillon further explained to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Alex Coolidge. “I understand customers – some customers – who really like double coupons, and are disappointed that they are gone… We did that, though, because we believe we could satisfy more customers than were attracted to double coupons. Now, that may not have been true ten years ago, but I think it is true today. Our digital offerings, our prices offerings, our everyday price offerings, our promotional offerings, all have gone to more customers than what the double coupons represent.”

It’s worth noting, Kroger President and COO Rodney McMullen told the Business Courier, that “it’s a local decision for each market.” So there’s no grand plan from corporate headquarters to force every region to offer the same coupon policy. But in those regions that have ended double coupons, “it has worked exactly the way we hoped,” he said. And other regions “see the insights from other places,” he added, suggesting that it’s only a matter of time before they reach the same conclusion about whether ending double coupons is right for them.

Dillon concurred, saying that it wasn’t a hard decision for those regions that have already made the move.

What’s next for Kroger? “We have a number of tricks up our sleeve that we hope to introduce over the next year,” Dillon told Cincinnati’s WCPO. Who knows, one of those “tricks” could be eliminating double coupons in a Kroger near you. If it hasn’t happened already, that is.

5 Comments

  1. I admit that I’m not a financial wizard especially in large corporate matters, but if couponers made up such a tiny, insignificant percent of their 100% shopping genre, then exactly how does the issues of doubling come into play? It seems that from Krogers own business analysis, that the number of coupons that were actually presented and doubled was not really worth counting. So what is with the removing of it? Why not leave it intact and make 100% of the shoppers happy and loyal? Rather than stripping the main reason of shopping in their stores away from “some” of the customers who depend on doubled savings. I don’t know what world the Kroger rep lives in, but I’m out here in the cold world and without doubled savings, I’d be leaving more at the store than I could take home to take care of my family. And I know that the number of people who use coupons is actually increasing over the years, not decreasing. Major newspapers have written about the increase over the last few years.
    Well, that’s my two cents anyway. Have a lovely day.

  2. I live in Kroger’s Delta region, where doubles are ending on 7/10/13. I went to Kroger this week and they had big signs all over that said “New Lower Prices” and “Faster Checkout.” Some of the prices were lower by a fair amount, but, frankly, I don’t expect that to last. If only 1% of their clientele uses coupons, how much can they lower the prices on a store full of items with the paltry savings they’ll recognize from ending doubles?

    And I resent them taking away the money that I was able to save by putting in some effort, and redistributing those savings to people who are not willing to work at saving money. Unfortunately, this is the direction our entire country is going. Hard work is not to be rewarded!

    Anyway, as I mentioned, there were signs saying “Faster Checkout.” Well, there were only two lanes open (in the middle of Wed. afternoon) and I had to wait longer than I’ve had to wait in a long time. They did eventually open another lane temporarily, but my thoughts were, if you’re not telling the truth about the faster checkout, then why should I believe you are going to lower prices?

    • I live in the Cleveland area and Kroger’s stores have left here very long ago. I still like to read up on what’s happening elsewhere and with other grocery chains because one may never know how one grocery chain’s decision may encourage other grocery chains to follow suit. I hope that’s not the case, but you never know. All I can do is be on alert and be thankful we can still double coupons here for the moment. I don’t necessarily shop @ a store because it doubles coupons, but it has the best deal for that week. New low prices doesn’t necessarily mean the best price. It is what it is!!!

  3. I’d hate to think it’ll happen in AZ, our market is much more competitive than other areas. But – you never know!

    • It helps to know that it’s the local divisions themselves that are making the decision, and not the corporate office, so they would know better whether eliminating double coupons would put them at a competitive disadvantage or not. But still – anything’s possible!

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