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It’s the first Wednesday of February. For committed game players with dreams of winning millions for going grocery shopping, that can only mean one thing – it’s time for Albertsons’ annual Monopoly Collect & Win game!

Well, about that…

Nothing is normal these days, so there’s no Monopoly today, or tomorrow, or next week at Albertsons, Safeway, Pavilions, Vons, Randalls, Tom Thumb, ACME, Jewel-Osco, United Supermarkets, Shaw’s, Star Market and several other smaller, regional Albertsons-owned stores. But don’t worry, because it’s coming – eventually.

“Our customers are been waiting for it,” an Albertsons customer service representative told Coupons in the News. “We are happy to inform you that there will be Monopoly this year, but it will be very different.”

The first difference is that the game doesn’t begin until March 3 this year, with online pre-registration beginning February 17th. Another difference is a slightly smaller prize pool – there’s a total of $230 million up for grabs this year, down from the $250 million offered last year.

Other than that, Albertsons isn’t offering many details just yet. But presumably, a game that’s “very different” will be different in ways more significant than just a later starting date and a smaller total dollar value. In the era of COVID-19, when we’re all about minimizing our shopping trips and contactless checkout, encouraging shoppers to flock to their local grocery store to get their grubby hands all over little paper game pieces is not exactly conducive to safety.

So Albertsons is making some changes – and it’s not the only sweepstakes sponsor forced to make some concessions to COVID.

“The sweepstakes and contest industry has been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic,” marketing and promotions attorneys Allison Fitzpatrick and Paavana Kumar of Davis & Gilbert wrote in a recent article. They say many brands and retailers have been “hesitant to engage in these promotions due to fear of seeming ‘out of touch,’ while other brands are looking to cancel or postpone their sweepstakes and contests, particularly if the prize involves a trip or event tickets.”

That said, “setting up a sweepstakes campaign during a global crisis can help both your business and the consumers,” the promotional firm US Sweepstakes advises. “Consumers need all the support that they can get during uncertain times like this. Keep their spirits up and give them the opportunity to have fun and win something for free.”

Fitzpatrick and Kumar agree that sweepstakes are still possible, and even advisable, to help brands and retailers connect with customers, “many of whom are feeling more and more isolated as a result of COVID-19.” However, they caution, “sweepstakes and contests will only be effective during these tumultuous times if they are structured and messaged properly.”

Last year’s Albertsons Monopoly game was only about a month old before it was rudely interrupted by the onset of the pandemic and the resulting stay-at-home orders, which made collecting game pieces difficult. There were three $1 million prizes available, but the only winner was a Colorado woman who participated in an online “second chance” drawing.

For the past several years, the Monopoly contest has offered an online component, including the second chance drawing. So while Albertsons isn’t offering details yet about this year’s game, don’t be surprised if the online game takes precedence over the in-person collection of game pieces this year.

So stay tuned for more details about Monopoly 2021 – which is, perhaps appropriately, the 13th annual edition of the contest. For the sake of those who would like to win a million bucks, here’s hoping that the ominous number 13 proves to be the only thing unlucky about this game this year.

2 Comments

  1. In addition to the bigger prizes that might pose problems (like the mentioned trips and tickets), there might also be issues with the smaller ones.

    These types of games usually offer many free or deals on in store items, and that might raise an issue if the supplies of those items are not available (which, while not as bad as it was at one point, still happens to some degree).

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