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Kroger will cut many prices but eliminate double coupons

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 - 8:01 am

At least a small percentage of Kroger customers are bound to be upset that Kroger is ending its double-coupon policy, but the company is betting a wide swath of price cuts more than makes up for any disappointment.

The company today announced what it described as “thousands” of price reductions. Company officials say the cuts -- concentrated on produce, natural foods, organics and grocery -- will benefit all customers.

In contrast, double coupons are used by less than 7 percent of customers, “and that number has been trending down for years,” said Kroger spokesman John Elliott.

Prices will be cut beginning Thursday; double coupons will be eliminated July 31, according to a news release from the company. Kroger stores in this region will continue to accept manufacturer coupons, valid printable coupons and valid electronic coupons at face value, the company said.

The price cuts and elimination of double coupons will affect all stores in the company's central division -- mainly Illinois and Indiana -- and include all 15 Kroger stores in this area. Elliott said that the number of items with price cuts will be at least 10 percent of stock in typical stores, which carry about 30,000 different items.

It's another sign that Kroger's business strategy relies on targeting savings to appeal to its millions of customers. To help lure shoppers to Kroger in a highly competitive environment -- Wal-mart, Meijer and soon Costco all compete with Kroger here -- the company is continuing several rewards programs. These rewards programs provide customers with incentives to bundle many other purchases with their grocery shopping.

Elliott emphasized that eliminating double coupons does not spell the end of discounts. Getting special deals does often depend on using a Kroger loyalty card.

In the last decade, those Kroger cards have paid off for the Ohio-based retailer. Elliott said that 96 percent of Kroger shoppers use loyalty cards. Those records of purchasing patterns help the company tailor deals consumers see to their past patterns in shopping.

“This is very targeted,” Elliott said. “We have the largest customer database in the world.”

The rewards programs include:

*Discounts on fuel for loyalty card customers, with additional discounts available to people who use a Kroger Visa card and during certain promotional periods.

*Kroger will continue to offer free minutes for its i-wireless prepaid cell-phone service customers, when they shop at participating Kroger-owned stores and use their Kroger plus card.

The company said it will continue to use “loyalty mailers” to provide savings to customers based on their shopping habits. Digital coupons are available to customers through the company's website or through iPhone or Android apps. In addition to the price cuts, the company will continue to offer weekly specials, it said in a news release.

Kroger employs more than 2,000 people in its northeast Indiana district, which includes stores in Fort Wayne, Decatur, Auburn, Bluffton, Kendallville, New Haven and Defiance, Ohio. Its stores employ 725 full-time workers and 1,019 part-time. A distribution center in Bluffton which services several Midwestern states has 1,027 Kroger employees, Elliott said.