Middle classes could 'shop around' and ABANDON Waitrose, says expert

Middle classes will ‘shop around’ and could ABANDON Waitrose if it doesn’t offer better value for money, industry expert warns, after supermarket ditches its free newspaper and coffee offers

  • Waitrose warned it must present good value to keep its middle class shoppers
  • It comes after the chain axed free newspapers for loyalty card holders last week  
  • Waitrose said the free newspapers were only taken up by around 5% of members
  • But editor of The Grocer says myWaitrose card needs a reboot with new deals  

Waitrose has been warned it must offer good value to keep customers onboard after axing its free newspaper deal ahead of looming food price inflation and the cost of living crisis.

Britain’s leading upmarket foodstore chain was told by an industry expert that even middle-class customers may shop around elsewhere as the nation tightens its belts.

The warning was issued by Adam Leyland, editor in chief of the The Grocer magazine, just a week after Waitrose announced the end of its free newspaper deal for loyalty card holders spending over £10. 

Mr Leyland said that a reboot of the myWaitrose card scheme is long overdue as the list of benefits has been watered down in recent years.

He went on: ‘Waitrose needs to tackle its value perception. Because even if you are middle-class, food price inflation and the cost of living crisis is an issue.

‘Of course, perceptions of value are relative to particular demographics. But if you can’t be good value, without those perks like free coffee and free newspapers, what even are you?

‘Loyalty is under threat like never before. There is nothing shoppers can do to stop the 54per cent increase in household energy bills. But they can shop around and they will.’

Waitrose is scrapping its free newspaper offer to loyalty card customers who spend over £10 from February 22

Waitrose announced it was ending its free newspaper offer on February 22 as just five per cent of members are making use of it.

The move prompted a backlash on social media, similar to the outrage Waitrose faced when it ended free coffee in 2017.

The upmarket supermarket chain, owned by the John Lewis Partnership, sent an email to myWaitrose card holders, informing them they will no longer receive a free newspaper when they spend £10 or more from February 22. 

The email stated: ‘Nobody shops quite like you – so we’re updating myWaitrose to make it even more personal.

‘As part of these changes, the myWaitrose newspaper offer will be ending on 22 February 2022. But we’re replacing it with something new – look our for updates in the coming weeks.’  

Waitrose is promising personalised offers, special members-only prices, and discounts on cooking classes.

In 2017 the supermarket faced a backlash when it introduced new rules forcing myWaitrose customers to buy items first before claiming their free tea or coffee. Stores later closed the machines ‘for the time being’.

Waitrose added: ‘Look out for updates in the coming weeks – and in the meantime, keep using your myWaitrose card, because the more you use it, the more personalised we’ll be able to make your offers.’

The move immediately provoked an angry response from customers.

On Twitter, Richard Stitson fumed: ‘So you’re removing the free newspaper from #mywaitrose later this month. 

‘I’ve never taken you up on the free coffee but the free paper is what makes me shop at Waitrose. Looks like I’ll be clocking up more #LidlPlus spend in @LidlGB in future! Bad move. Lost my loyalty.’

Waitrose was criticised on social media with a number of users saying free newspapers are the reason they spend over £10 in the upmarket store

And Kien Tan tweeted: ‘No more free newspaper? This is literally the only reason why my parents go to #Waitrose several times a week (‘we need to spend £10!’). And after killing free coffee too. JLP really got a death wish…’

A Waitrose spokesman said: ‘We’re improving the myWaitrose programme to offer customers personalised discounts on the products they buy most.

‘While the newspaper offer was enjoyed by some of our customers, in reality it was only being used by around 5% of members.

‘The new approach will mean that all members can make greater savings by receiving benefits tailored to them.’

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