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And then there was one.

If you’re a Kroger couponer in Central Tennessee, consider yourself lucky – you’re the last Kroger shoppers in the country who can still take advantage of double coupons. That’s because the second-to-last Kroger division that still doubled coupons, will no longer do so, beginning May 14th.

That word comes from Kroger’s Michigan Division. “As part of its commitment to lower prices for all customers, The Kroger Co. of Michigan made the decision to accept coupons at face value beginning on May 14,” an announcement from the company issued late on Friday reads.

Surely, you know the drill by now. “Kroger customers will find reduced prices on thousands of items…” “Cutting prices in departments throughout our stores allows us to offer discounted products to all shoppers…” “Bonus promotional couponing originated decades ago when none of the current online and electronic coupon options were available to customers and smartphones did not exist.”

All of those statements are plenty familiar to Kroger shoppers in other regions, who’ve heard them before as double coupons were discontinued one by one. It started in Texas back in 2011, then the campaign gained steam in February 2013. That’s when Kroger’s Cincinnati/Dayton Division announced “new lower prices” – and oh, by the way, no more double coupons.

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Over the next year, it happened again and again and again, division by division, with Kroger seemingly hoping that the promise of lower prices would soften the blow of the loss of double coupons. “Today, less than 1% of our customers are consistent traditional coupon users,” Kroger’s Michigan Division president Jayne Homco said in a statement. So instead, Michigan Kroger stores, like so many others, will offer “price reductions on products such as grocery, produce, dairy and natural foods… to ensure all shoppers will benefit from the price reductions over time.”

Of course, Kroger has never quite explained how it could afford to lower prices so significantly, merely by eliminating a benefit that it claims so few shoppers even use. But it clearly isn’t concerned about the complaints from that 1% of “consistent traditional coupon users.”

“They’re a very vocal part of your customer base, and they don’t like it when you stop giving them that reward,” Kroger CFO Michael Schlotman said right about this time last year. “But the percentage of customers who actually enjoyed the benefit of that, our view was we were better off taking those dollars and investing them in better prices for all of our customers rather than rewarding just a select segment of our customers.”

And that “select segment” of customers isn’t happy. “You say that you will lower the prices of the products in your store, but will they be as cheap as if we were buying them with a doubled coupon? Probably not!” wrote one commenter on Kroger’s Facebook page. “It will no longer be cost effective for me to shop your store and I will take my business where it is,” added another.

But the backlash, like the announcement itself, is as predictable as it was inevitable. Most Kroger shoppers in Michigan and elsewhere saw this coming a long time ago. And Kroger shoppers in Central Tennessee likely aren’t holding out hope that they will remain the only double-couponing division for too much longer.

Couponers at Fry’s, King Soopers and Harris Teeter are watching closely, too – since they’re the last remaining Kroger-owned divisions that also offer double coupons.

But few will be surprised if, someday, they too read an announcement about “new lower prices” in their stores. By now, they know full well what that really means.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Kroger stops doubling coupons at another division – WRAL.com | Grocery Mart Online

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