Waitrose scraps free newspapers for loyal customers

Waitrose is scrapping its free newspaper offer for loyalty card customers after it emerged it is pushing up prices three times faster than rivals.

In an email to customers on Thursday, the supermarket said that members of its myWaitrose scheme would no longer be eligible for a free newspaper when they spend £10 from February 22.  

Waitrose said it would be announcing “something new” to replace the free newspaper in the coming weeks.

It said it will overhaul its myWaitrose benefits to make them “more personal” including tailored offers.

The email said: “Nobody shops quite like you – so we’re updating myWaitrose to make it even more personal, with savings tailored to the way you shop and the things you love.

“As part of these changes, the myWaitrose newspaper offer will be ending on 22 February 2022. But we’re replacing it with something even better – personalised offers, chosen just for you.”

The move risks sparking a backlash in a repeat of the anger Waitrose faced from shoppers when it overhauled its free coffee policy in 2017, requiring customers to pay for their shopping to be eligible for a free drink. Its coffee and tea machines in stores were later closed “for the time being” and Waitrose is yet to reinstate the offer.

The move to change the loyalty card scheme further looks set to bring Waitrose more in line with its supermarket rivals, such as the Morrisons scheme which offers customer vouchers for items they have previously bought. At Tesco, members of its Clubcard scheme collect points which can then be converted into digital coupons.  

It comes after a report by Which? revealed that Waitrose is raising its prices three times faster than at other supermarkets. A basket of groceries at Waitrose rose by 9.2pc last year, according to the figures, compared with a 3pc average increase at the eight largest supermarkets monitored by Which?.

A Waitrose spokesman said: “We’re working hard to deliver great value, offering ethically sourced, great quality products at fair prices along with excellent service from our partners. 

“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 5pc of members. The new approach will mean that all members can make greater savings by receiving benefits tailored to them.”

Company insiders said the change was not being made as part of cost-cutting measures.

Supermarkets are raising prices as they come up against inflation, which is at the highest level in almost three decades. 

Research from data company Kantar found that people were spending an extra £15 on their monthly grocery bill, with fears growing of a cost-of-living crisis across the country.

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