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The Kroger Co. is apologizing to those disappointed by a recent promotion designed to reward loyal shoppers with free or discounted merchandise.
Seven of the Cincinnati-based grocery giant’s Columbus, Ohio-area Marketplace stores were overrun last weekend with shoppers looking to take part in the grocery’s “holiday thank-you bonus” program, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
In its fifth year, the program historically has offered discounts on merchandise based on customer spending. This year, shoppers were offered $10 for every $100 spent between Oct. 16 and Nov. 27, which could be used toward purchases of home-department items and toys at Kroger Marketplace stores.
Some 90,000 customers flooded the stores during the redemption period – 10 times the number of promotion participants last year, a company spokesperson said, and the stores got caught short of eligible items.
“We wanted to thank our customers by giving them free stuff, but we didn’t satisfy everyone and we apologize,” Kroger’s Jackie Siekman told The Dispatch. “We’ve run the program for five years, but this year was overwhelmingly popular, more than we predicted.”
Many customers complained that they drove many miles out of their way only to discover the stores overrun with customers, nowhere to park, long checkout lines and sold-out merchandise. Others who arrived early praised Kroger for offered a promotion that helped families have a nicer holiday during a year of tight personal finances.
The promotion was limited to Columbus-area Marketplace stores and three Toledo-area Kroger stores that have a “Kitchen Place” section, Siekman said.
“We really feel bad that we weren’t able to please all of our customers, but we tried to make sure our customers left with something free in their cart even if it might not have been what they wanted,” she told The Dispatch. “We tried to restock but couldn’t keep up with demand.”
Kroger noted that the sale was limited to stock on hand and no rain checks or gift cards will be issued to folks who arrived after merchandise was exhausted.