Albertsons has pulled the plug on a key motivator for membership in its loyalty program: lower prices. The supermarket retailer has disconnected discounts at its stores and at several of its banners, including Shaw's, Star Markets, Acme Markets and Jewel-Osco.
The retailer notified its customers in a blog post last month that "our Preferred Card is no longer required at our stores to receive sales prices on items.
"The card isn't so special anymore. Everyone has one. So we want to take the special step of not requiring one anymore," added public affairs director Christine Wilcox.
Shoppers whose loyalty membership is connected to a Upromise college savings account will still be able to have their cards scanned, and the chain is also keeping its affiliation with Shell's Fuel Rewards gasoline discount program, although that program's future is under review, according to published reports.
The near-death of these loyalty programs is taking place at the banners Albertsons acquired from Supervalu in March, which the company is merging with stores that had been owned by private equity firm Cerberus. Supervalu had kept the loyalty card programs going at these banners. "In practice, the Cerberus-owned Albertsons chain didn't see a lot of use for the CRM data it was collecting," according to a FierceRetail article on June 19. "Six years and a merger later, instead of trying to reintroduce loyalty cards for one-third of its stores, the chain is eliminating it for the other two-thirds."