Kroger announced Friday they will end the practice of doubling coupons effective May 14. The announcement was posted on the company’s Facebook page at 8 p.m. Friday and received almost immediate reaction from consumers. The move will allow the grocer to lower prices, which were elevated to compensate for the loss taken on couponed items.
Michigan grocers have doubled coupons for decades in a costly practice that started to lure customers from competitors. The common business strategy began to unravel when Walmart and Kmart entered the Michigan market. They did not elect to join the practice and last year Meijer stopped doubling in their Michigan stores.
Some grocers elected to take the strategy of changing their merchandise mix to distinguish their store from the national and regional chains. In Pontiac the Foodliner took drastic measures to mirror the neighborhood they serve, adding Hispanic items across all product offerings.
According to Jayne Homco, president of the Kroger Co. of Michigan, less than one percent of Kroger customers are still using traditional printed coupons. Consumers have switched to electronic coupons or use no coupons at all.
The promise to lower prices will be key as many shoppers deal with rising foods costs due to the high cost of transportation, skyrocketing healthcare costs and severe weather conditions affecting food supplies. Although the doubled coupons are attributed to the advertising budget margins had to rise to compensate for the higher marketing cost.
“Double coupons was the only reason to shop at Kroger”, says Christina Law. “Regular prices are too high.”
Angela Michels agress. “I grocery shop at 3 different stores to get the best prices for my family,” she says on Facebook, “The only reason Kroger can even compare to Walmart and Meijer is with the use of coupons.”
Several local chains such as Hillers, Busch’s and many Spartan stores are still doubling coupons for now. They will certainly look at the practice based on shopping patterns after Kroger ends the policy.