Getting a deal on chicken breasts or eggs at the grocery store is tougher for older adults without a mobile phone or internet access. That’s because, according to a review by consumer advocacy group Consumer World, a growing number of supermarket chains are saving their best deals for the digitally connected.
With 25 percent of older adults lacking internet connectivity and 39 percent without a mobile phone, according to Pew Research, many older consumers are missing out on these deals. That’s made worse in the current high inflationary environment, with prices soaring for everything from food to gasoline.
“More and more supermarkets across the country are offering digital-only deals,” says consumer advocate and Consumer World founder Edgar Dworsky. “You have to have the supermarket apps or go on to their website to find the particular offer. We’ve got millions of seniors who are not connected to the internet who lose out.”
In the past, smart shoppers would clip a coupon from a newspaper, flyer or magazine to bring with them to the grocery store. Or they’d show their loyalty card at checkout. Supermarket chains are adding an extra step by requiring you to go online and load the coupon into your account or mobile app. Some supermarkets have been extending the digital deals beyond dry groceries to include meat, fish, poultry and produce, according to Consumer World. The items are replacing some of the traditional weekly specials.
“Digital discounts are no deal for many seniors. They are a clever ploy by big supermarket chains to get people into the store knowing full well that many of them will wind up paying more than the advertised price,” Dworsky commented in the report. “A substantial number of shoppers don’t have online access, don’t understand how to take advantage of digital offers, or won’t be able to follow the cumbersome online procedure no matter what their age is.”
Consumer World checked in with about 50 supermarkets across the country and found two-thirds advertise some weekly digital-only deals. They include:
• Fred Meyer
• Frys Food
• Food Lion
• Jewel Osco