Waitrose has decided to stop providing free papers for loyal cardholders starting 22 February, as the latest sign of retailers cutting costs in the face of rising inflation.
Participants in the myWaitrose scheme are eligible to take some of the costs for a variety of papers if they pay PS10 on the supermarket.
In a letter addressed to its 8.5 million members of the scheme, Waitrose said it would replace the current scheme with more personalized offers which will change every week.
“While the newspaper offers were loved by a few of our members however, it was utilized by five percent of members. This new strategy will allow every member can enjoy more money by receiving benefits specifically tailored to their specific needs.”
The decision caused anger among some grocery’s customers, less than a year after the retailer ended its offer of free coffee to MyWaitrose customers in its stores. The retailer stated that the offer was stopped in the midst of the epidemic, but did not specify the date on when it might be reinstated.
One customer posted on Twitter: “What?! Waitrose have stopped their #myWaitrose paper offer This is a huge slap in the face! The lists of consolation offers are not the same! The paper that includes the myWaitrose Saturday store has been the mainstay of our family’s weekends for years! We are not thrilled in any way. I’d like to know why? !”
Many loyalty card holders claimed that the free paper was the primary reason for joining.
I used to go down to Waitrose several times per week to top up my shopping and the free paper was a huge advantage, however, the nearby Tesco will be just fine.”
Supermarkets are looking for ways to lower costs in order to make sure they can keep a lid on the prices of their stores in the face of rising inflation on food and non-food items across the UK.
The fierce competition in the market including discounts of Aldi and Lidl and Lidl, is forcing other retailers to reduce prices despite increasing costs for essential commodities and ingredients transportation, energy, and fuel.
The week before, Tesco has announced that it will stop selling films and music at its grocery stores until the end of this month. They also announced that they would shut down the counters to deli items, close its tiny Jack’s chain, and end working at night in many stores to cut costs.
The latest shake-up of Waitrose is the latest in a string of changes to the terms of its loyalty-card program over time.
In 2017, it was required that scheme members to purchase something before making themselves a hot drink. This was after queues that formed at self-service kiosks since the initial offer allowed even those not buying anything to grab an unrestricted drink.
Prior to the announcement, Waitrose told those who would like to get a complimentary hot drink at one their cafes they needed to purchase an “treat” – such as cake, a sandwich or biscuits.
The most recent change to the loyalty program could be a setback for the industry of newspapers as redemptions account for as high as 10% of certain newspaper sales during the weekend at the grocery store according to trade publication RN.
RN quoted an industry insider who said that Waitrose pickups were crucial for sales on weekends for The Daily Mail, Telegraph and Sunday Times.