Giant Eagle to allow outside coupons
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O'Hara grocer Giant Eagle has adjusted its coupon acceptance policy to allow customers to use coupons from certain competitors, a move that may reflect the supermarket industry's growing need to keep shoppers from chasing deals from other retailers.
Traditional grocers last year lost some sales to competitors such as drugstores, club stores and even dollar stores, according to a report on U.S. grocery shopper trends from the Food Marketing Institute, in Arlington, Va.
While 87 percent of participants surveyed in 2011 had shopped for groceries at a supermarket in the last 30 days, only 71 percent had in the 2012 survey. By comparison, both drugstores and dollar stores saw their percentages rise from 12 percent in 2011 to 17 percent in 2012.
A number of studies have found that shoppers have become more value-focused since the beginning of the Great Recession, and that shows no sign of changing.
An online survey of 2,400 adults done earlier this month by Harris Interactive on behalf of online coupon site CouponCabin found nearly one third describe themselves as "opportunists," or shoppers who have no loyalty to a particular retailer and just buy when they have coupons or other promotions.
Under Giant Eagle's policy revised earlier this month, the retailer now accepts coupons offered by certain competitors, but not all. "We continually evaluate the Giant Eagle coupon policy to ensure that we deliver customers the best overall value," said company spokesman Dick Roberts, in an emailed statement.
"Most recently Giant Eagle locations began accepting competitor coupons, provided they are from a grocery, convenience store or pharmacy retailers (restaurant coupons will not be accepted)."
Some other retailers have similar policies, including Wal-Mart, which accepts competitor coupons that meet certain stipulations. The coupons must, for example, be for a specific item and have a specified price.
A spokesman for the region's Shop 'n Save stores said that, since those are independently owned, the issue of accepting competitors' coupons is up to the invidual owners.
Stirring up the competitive pot, Wal-Mart is now testing a receipt comparison tool in which customers can send in a recent receipt for purchases made at a competitor's store to see how much the items would have cost at Wal-Mart. The service is only available in Albuquerque, N.M.; Atlanta, Ga., and Chicago, at the moment. The company site said it plans to expand the service.
Tweaking coupon policies has become more common in recent years with the advent of Internet coupons, mobile deals and the kind of intense discount hunting promoted by cable TV shows such as "Extreme Couponing."
About a year ago, Giant Eagle made some clarifications to make it clear that it didn't allow stacking a paper coupon with an online coupon, as well as limiting the number of coupons used per same type of item. That followed a move by Rite Aid to set limits on the number of coupons used on the same items.
For more details, Giant Eagle's policy can be found at: http://www.gianteagle.com/about/policies#Coupon.
Wal-Mart's coupon policy is at: http://corporate.walmart.com/coupon-policy. Its receipt comparison tool can be seen at: http://seeforyourself.walmart.com/receiptcomparison/.
First Published August 31, 2012 12:00 am