business news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday seemed to be a day during which the theme for some companies was cutting consumer benefits…

In Washington, DC, WTOP News reported that Ahold-owned Giant Food has decided to no longer offer shoppers a five-cent reward for every reusable shopping bag brought into the store, an incentive that it has had in place for almost two decades.

According to the story, Gordon Reid, the company's president, wrote to shoppers, saying: "Approximately 20 years ago, we launched our reusable bag program and began offering our customers a 5-cent incentive every time they used a reusable bag when shopping in our stores. At the time, this was a very new idea and the program encouraged our customers to change their habits and adopt the use of reusable bags. We've continued this incentive program over these many years, but times have changed and the public is much more aware of environmental issues and our responsibility, as individuals, to reduce our environmental impact."

Reid said that Giant will continue "to invest in new programs that will contribute more to our environmental objectives."

Meanwhile, in the UK, the Telegraph reports that grocer Sainsbury "is halving the rewards available to shoppers from its loyalty scheme Nectar in the latest stage of the supermarket price war. The changes, which have prompted a backlash on social media, mean that from April 11 next year Sainsbury's will award one Nectar point for every pound spent compared with two at present. Also, shoppers will no longer receive one point every time they use their own bag, although they will still earn a point for each litre of fuel purchased."

The story says that CEO Mike Coupe (no relation, as far as we know, to the Content Guy) has said that "said that Sainsbury’s wants to simplify its pricing and reduce the number of promotions it runs."
KC's View:
Forgive my cynicism, but it is hard for me to believe that either of these cuts have anything other than the notion of saving nickels - or pounds - for retailers that are under pressure. Hard to say whether ending such programs will hurt their image with consumers, but let's at least call it the way things are.

One thing, though … it's been 20 years since Giant started offering a nickel for reusable bags brought into the store? That's amazing …