Protests over recently announced shrinkage of the popular Price Chopper Fuel AdvantEdge promotion are drowning out the supermarket’s claim that the move is part of an effort to provide lower food prices and more overall savings.
Starting May 13, shoppers will have to spend $100 at Price Chopper to save 10 cents per gallon of gas they buy, instead of getting the 10-cent discount for every $50 spent. The move is part of a shift in the Schenectady-based company’s resources, as savings from the changes in the gas program will go toward lower food prices, which company spokeswoman Mona Golub said drove the decision.
She explained that the new policies are in response to a call from consumers for cheaper food. The plan is for these savings to outweigh the gas savings customers had realized under the current shape of the Fuel AdvantEdge program. That program has cost Price Chopper more than $250 million since 2009.
“At the time, we introduced it as a new promotion, and it has since become the most successful and longest running promotion that we ever put out there,” Golub said, noting that it’s the only one of its kind in the Capital Region.
The program’s popularity was evident on the supermarket’s Facebook page, where more than 700 comments about the changes piled up in the 24 hours after the change was announced Wednesday. An overwhelming majority of the comments were negative, with many posters suggesting the switch will prompt them to shop elsewhere, such as at ShopRite or Hannaford. Only a handful of comments acknowledged the projected savings in food costs as part of the policy shift.
“We’ve gotten the initial response that we expected and we’d like the opportunity to prove to those people who would like to see lower prices that this is exactly what we’re doing,” Golub said. “We expected that people would not be able to recognize the savings until they were fully in place.”
By May 13 the supermarket chain plans on offering 10,000 items at newly reduced prices, which began to be phased in about two weeks ago. Shoppers will be able to recognize the new savings by “Price Chopped” tags on foods and longer sale periods for items advertised as part of the “Every Day Low Price” promotion. There will also be more coupons exclusive to Price Chopper.
Additionally, Price Chopper is expanding the opportunities to earn “bonus fuel rewards.” These are gas discounts that are on top of the regular discount and are achieved by purchasing a combination of products or taking part in other promotions advertised in the weekly circular. These programs already exist, but they will be increasing in frequency, with this Sunday’s ad featuring a chance to get an extra $1 off per gallon of gas.
Golub stressed that the shift is based on what the company is hearing from customers offering feedback in stores, through its call center, by email and through social media. It’s because of this push that the company isn’t worried about losing customers despite the current outrage. “We recognize it certainly is a risk, but if you make a change in reaction to what a majority of your customers are asking for, we believe it is a chance worth taking,” she said.
For shoppers looking to get their groceries elsewhere, opportunities in the Capital Region grew Thursday with the opening of a ShopRite supermarket at 709 Central Ave. in Albany. The 65,000-square-foot location kicked off with a ribbon-cutting and the presentation of $2,500 to local charities to aid hunger prevention initiatives.
The new location, the second of four planned ShopRite sites in the Capital Region, employs more than 500 and features all the bells and whistles the chain offers. There is an on-site dietician, home delivery service, bake shop, meat and seafood sections, salad bar, full-service floral department, pharmacy and an assortment of prepared foods, including fresh sushi and a gourmet coffee bar. There will also be electric car charging stations in front of the store.
Unique to the location is a Wi-Fi lounge, where shoppers can browse the Internet.