Food Lion to double coupons

adunn@newsobserver.comMarch 6, 2012 

Starting Wednesday, Food Lion will offer a double-coupon promotion in Triangle and Fayetteville-area stores - just weeks after the supermarket chain's parent company announced it would close more than 100 stores.

It will be the first time the Salisbury-based grocery chain will offer double coupons in the highly competitive Triangle grocery market, though it has tested the promotion in other areas, said Food Lion spokeswoman Christy Phillips-Brown.

"Raleigh and Fayetteville are very important markets to us," Phillips-Brown said. "We're pleased to bring this new promotion to our customers."

In January, Food Lion's parent company, the Belgian conglomerate Delhaize Group, announced it would close 126 underperforming stores across its three brands - 113 of them Food Lion stores, including one in Cary.

In that same announcement, Delhaize, which also operates Bloom and Bottom Dollar stores, said it is converting 64 Bloom and Bottom Dollar Food stores to Food Lions and retiring the Bloom brand.

The closings were part of what Delhaize called its "new game plan" to revive slumping sales.

Part of that is a change in strategy that Food Lion has been testing in the Triangle and Chattanooga markets since May. The grocer cut prices on 6,000 items, reorganized shelves, added shopping carts, increased staffing and made efforts to improve customer service.

The double-coupon event will last for two weeks at Food Lion's 142 stores in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill-Fayetteville area, Phillips-Brown said.

Coupons with a face value of up to 99 cents will be doubled, she said.

Food Lion faces stiff competition in the Triangle from regional and national chains, many of which aggressively offer generous coupon promotions. Matthews-based Harris Teeter and Winston-Salem-based Lowes Foods routinely double coupons up to 99 cents in value. Kroger stores in the Triangle double coupons up to 50 cents every day.

For the past several years, Harris Teeter has also offered triple-coupon and so-called "super-double" coupon promotions about every six to eight weeks. During a super-double promotion, a coupon valued at up to $1.98 is doubled. And just last month, Lowes Foods upped the ante on its coupon promotions, offering its customers a super-double promotion.

Food Lion has, until now, only redeemed coupons at face value.

"Our focus is having everyday low prices and from time to time we'll have other promotions," Phillips-Brown said.

Previous areas where Food Lion has recently tested double coupons include parts of Georgia and Tennessee. Food Lion stores are in 10 states in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic.

Supermarket analyst Phil Lempert said the chain is likely using the double-coupon event as "a test to see if it can drive traffic."

But, Lempert said, the "problem is that if stores compete just on price they will never win. There will always be someone, Walmart or Aldi, who will be cheaper."

Dunn: 919-829-4522 or blogs.newsobserver.com/saver

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