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    Wegmans Offers Extended Price Cuts

    The grocer said it would cut prices on hundreds of items in anticipation of its own costs coming down.

    Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. said yesterday that it would be slashing prices on hundreds of products shoppers buy each week. Rather than one- or two-week promotional specials, Wegmans' price cuts will remain in effect for an extended period of time, the chain promised.

    "We are lowering hundreds of prices in anticipation of our costs dropping in the future, and we intend to bring more prices down as soon as we can," said c.e.o. Danny Wegman and his daughter, president Colleen Wegman, in a statement to employees. "These are uncertain times. We know our employees and customers are very concerned, and so are we. During difficult times like these, it's okay with us if we make a little less money. And, as always, we are committed to offering the lowest price in the market on the items most important to families. We hope these savings will help you enjoy your time with family even more this holiday season."

    According to Wegmans, although gasoline and corn, wheat, and soybean prices have declined, food prices have not experienced a corresponding decrease, because manufacturers and producers locked themselves into contracts when costs were much higher for fear of even higher costs in the future.

    "Though the lower costs we expect in 2009 haven't arrived yet, we think it's necessary to lower prices now," noted Wegmans director of media relations Jo Natale. "As a family-owned business, we can accept leaner profits in order to put employees' and customers' needs first."

    Natale wouldn't discuss the probable effect of the program on Wegmans' bottom line. She would say that based on anticipated sales, the total value of price cuts to consumers would come to $12 million annually. For an average consumer shopping for a family, the savings could be as much as $40 to $60 a month, she said.

    The lower-priced items, many of them sold under the Wegmans brand, will be available in the bakery, meat, produce, deli, and grocery sections.

    "We can be more aggressive with reductions because we have better access to detailed information on the factors that determine costs for those items," explained Natale of the preponderance of private label in the mix. "These products are already the best value in their respective category, and customers are choosing them more often as a way to save money."

    Over the next week, the grocer will begin promoting the price reduction with signage in stores.

    Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans operates 72 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland.

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