CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Kroger stores in the region have switched to a new pricing strategy that the company says will benefit all consumers, though others say it could send bargain hunters to other stores.
On Sunday, Kroger stores in the company's Mid-Atlantic Division - including West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, eastern Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky - lowered prices on thousands of items as part of the company's new, everyday low price strategy.
Kroger officials said the strategy has worked well in test markets and should result in savings for the average consumer.
"We know that with the economy the way it is, customers care about price more than ever," company spokesman Carl York said.
Among the reductions, several produce items were cut to 99 cents, 100-ounce bottles of Tide detergent were lowered to $11.99 and boxes of Freschetta Pizza were reduced to $5.49.
York said for the last several years, the company had been lowering prices on items in certain departments. He said officials believed it was the right time to implement the strategy storewide.
"We thought now is the time to do the rest of the store and do it in one campaign and lower prices at once," he said.
"I think customers are really going to see their bills go down."
To help balance the reductions, the company plans to end its practice of doubling the value of coupons worth up to 50 cents. Stores will begin honoring all coupons at face value on May 12.
While that may not sit well with coupon clippers, York said the savings would help benefit the broader customer base.
"There's only so many customers that coupon or double coupon," he said, "but lower prices across the store help out many more customers."
York said the company's switch to everyday low pricing was a part of a broader shift in the retail industry.
For decades, grocers thrived on a promotional model of running some products at discounts while others stayed at the regular price.