Kroger ending double coupon program at NC grocery stores

adunn@newsobserver.comApril 29, 2013 

KROGER-NE-121312-TEL

Tinamarie Carter walks back to her home after shopping at the Kroger on Martin Luther King and Raleigh Boulevards Thursday, December, 13, 2012. Carter said she regulary walks to the store for groceries and is disappointed that the store will close its doors and pull out of her neighborhood.

TRAVIS LONG — tlong@newsobserver.com

Starting next month, Kroger stores in North Carolina will no longer double the value of manufacturer coupons, a move that has disappointed many shoppers.

The grocery chain’s Facebook page was flooded over the weekend with mostly negative comments, with several posters referencing J.C. Penney’s problems after it stopped its coupon program. Others said they’d be switching their allegiance.

In the Triangle, the chain runs the risk of those shoppers turning to competing chains Harris Teeter and Lowes Foods, both of which aggressively advertise double-coupon promotions.

Kroger spokesman Carl York said in an email that stores in the chain’s Mid-Atlantic region would stop doubling coupons as of May 12.

Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic region includes North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

“We will continue to accept manufacturer coupons and other coupons at face value,” York said in the email.

The decision to halt double coupons comes three months after Cincinnati-based Kroger discontinued the practice of doubling the value of coupons in its home market of Cincinnati, along with neighboring markets in Dayton and Northern Kentucky.

Kroger, the nation’s largest grocery chain, had previously pulled the plug on doubling coupons in parts of Texas and California.

After closing two under-performing stores earlier this year, Kroger operates 14 stores in the Triangle.

Supermarket industry analyst Phil Lempert called Kroger’s decision a “critical move” because the doubled portion of coupons is paid for by grocery chains, not the manufacturers.

Lempert, who edits the website supermarketguru.com, said in an email that other grocery chains will likely follow suit, “offering other value venues like flash sales, or certain items on sale deep-discounted for a period of time.”

York, the Kroger spokesman, said the chain will focus instead on offering customers lower prices on key items.

York said Kroger would be “investing additional resources into lowering prices for our customers on everyday items.”

He said the chain would also be focusing more on digital coupons, fuel and pharmacy savings, and special coupon mailings sent to loyal customers.

“We believe that lowering prices across the store will reward more of our loyal customers on items that they buy most often,” York said.

Dunn: 919-829-4522

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