Kroger, America’s largest grocer, recently issued an edict to local managers: no more free publications in any of its stores nationwide.
Kroger claims that the decision was made “because more publications continue to shift to digital formats, resulting in less customers using the products.”
That’s not true in many communities around the country, according to senior officials at local alternative newspapers. “In fact, customers in our market love picking up their favorite newsweekly while they shop — last month 17,000 customers locally did so, a number that has risen over the years,” said John Weiss, founder of the Colorado Springs Independent.
Berl Schwartz, editor and publisher of the Lansing City Pulse in Michigan, added, “Paid newspaper readership is definitely declining. But, at Kroger stores, our pickup rate has gone from fewer than 1,100 copies a week to over 3,000 since 2012. That makes sense: the price of daily papers has increased steeply while content has declined just as sharply. As a result, many readers have stopped buying print dailies. In market after market, free, alternative weeklies have filled a big hole in local news.”
“Kroger says the company listens to shoppers,” Weiss continued. “That’s why we are calling on customers in Colorado Springs to launch an ‘un-boycott’ – to keep shopping at the stores but, while there, ask to speak to the manager on duty to request that they keep our paper available.”
The campaign by the Independent and similar activities by City Pulse are part of a nationwide effort to get the chain to keep free papers in their stores. Last week the Lansing City Council passed a resolution asking Kroger corporate leaders to reconsider their decision. Actions are also taking place in Aurora, Cincinnati, Memphis, Omaha, and Salt Lake City. Both the Colorado Springs Independent and Lansing City Voice are members of The Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN). The association represents 100 organizations throughout North America, which report on issues and communities that many mainstream media outlets ignore.
Read more background via the Colorado Springs Independent‘s recent cover story, action alert and editorial.
View the Lansing City Pulse‘s “Keep City Pulse in Kroger” petition.
Concerned customers across the United States can call 1-800-KROGERS (576-4377) then press number 3 to speak to a Kroger manager.