The country's largest grocery store chain is making a major change in the way it does business.
Kroger says it will no longer double customer coupons, but promises its new pricing strategy will save customers even more money. Not all shoppers are convinced.
Stephanie Head said she tries to use coupons whenever she grocery shops. She's disappointed Kroger plans to stop doubling the discount on coupons worth 50 cents or less come July 31st.
"I do feel couponing offsets the price of groceries...which we know can be astronomical," Head said.
Clutching a handful of coupons, Sophia Anderson said she too likes the chance to save extra money, but added, "if the store doubles them fine, if not, that's alright too."
Kroger spokesman John Elliott said the number of shoppers who benefit from double coupons is small and getting smaller.
Elliott said, "It's seven percent and declining who use double coupons."
He said most shoppers now save money by using digital coupons or their loyalty card, which makes it faster and easier to get through the checkout. There's no checking the date, validating the product and scanning each one.
Instead of doubling coupons, Elliot said Kroger will cut prices on thousands of items starting Thursday.
"The savings from the price reduction will be many times what we're not spending on double coupons," he said. "And those price reductions will benefit 100 percent of our customers, where the double coupons benefited just seven percent."
Elliott, though, wouldn't give examples of specific prices cuts saying they were broad and would change regularly.
"The proof will be in our prices versus our competitors," he said.
Besides Meijer, Kroger is the only area grocery store to double coupons. Some Kroger shoppers weren't even aware they were getting the extra discount.
"I don't remember getting double coupons for a while," Sue Craig said. "I hate using coupons. It's such a bother."
"I would rather that prices just be lower," said Gina Landis. "That would benefit everybody. Some people don't take the paper or don't have maybe an iPhone that they can download things, so I just think lower prices across the board would be a better way to go."
Mildred Coglianese said, "My daughter and son-in-law look for coupons constantly, so I wouldn't want anyone else to lose the benefit."
Cherie Lowe, also known as the "Queen of Free," said she wasn't surprised at the change. She predicted diehard coupon users would be "honked off in the short term" and that Kroger would experience some "pushback," but concluded, "overall, it will be okay. Savers will always find new ways to save."
Asked if "extreme couponers" had anything to do with the change, Elliot said, "we had to tighten the rules in response to a couple of abusers versus user, but no, that's really not what's driving the change...It's really about following the new trends customers are expecting."