LONG ISLAND, N.Y. -- The latest skirmish in the war to win consumers' food dollars here began when three chains started offering double coupons for the first time since the 1980s.
The programs began at King Kullen and Waldbaum's stores early last month, according to store-level sources at the two chains. The launch came the same week that an Edwards Super Food Store opened in West Babylon, the first new unit to appear on Long Island in five years, a source at Edward's said.
Central Islip-based Waldbaum's is a division of A&P, Montvale, N.J. King Kullen is based in Westbury, N.Y.
Long Island-area Melmarkets' Foodtown stores here have been converted to the Edwards banner over the last year. The Melmarkets, acquired by Stop & Shop Cos., Quincy, Mass., in late 1995, fell under the Edwards umbrella when Dutch-based Ahold bought Stop & Shop last summer. There are currently 27 Edwards stores on Long Island.
Soon after King Kullen and Waldbaum's started their programs, Grand Union, Wayne, N.J., began doubling coupons. The offers in all three chains were expected to run at least through May 24. Neither Waldbaum's nor King Kullen returned phone calls. Grand Union declined to comment.
At King Kullen, the offer, valid for any manufacturer coupon, was good at 20 units, most of which are in Suffolk County. There wasn't a ceiling on the dollar amount, though the total amount off could not exceed the price of the item.
Consumers could cash in an unlimited number of coupons, but no more than one for the same item could be doubled on the same day. The offer did not apply to store coupons, free coupons, milk, cigarettes or beer.
Waldbaum's offer had a ceiling of $1 that could doubled on the face value of manufacturer coupons. It also had a limit of one coupon per item. Its offer did not apply to store coupons or Interact coupons.
Similarly, Grand Union had a $1 limit and did not extend the offer to milk, cigarettes, alcohol or free coupons.
A store-level source at a Waldbaum's in Lindenhurst reported that store traffic doubled the first week of the coupon offer, while another source at King Kullen simply noted that the coupons had an effect on store traffic.
At press time, Pathmark did not have a double coupon offer in effect. But Kenn Bann, an analyst at Lehman Bros., New York, speculated that the retailer's recent price reduction on 5,000 items may have triggered the double coupon strategies.
Meanwhile, both Edwards and Waldbaum's offered a coupon for $5 or $10 off a large grocery purchase through May 24. The offer began with a $25 purchase at Waldbaum's and a $50 one at Edward's.