Coalition of consumer organizations urge supermarket industry to address “digital discrimination”

November 17, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin,, (703) 298-2614

This week a coalition of national consumer organizations urged leading supermarket chains to offer alternatives to digital-only discounts. Currently, many senior citizens and lower-income shoppers cannot take advantage of digital-only discounts due to smartphone or internet inaccessibility.

In the past couple of years more and more weekly specials advertised by some supermarkets for meat, fish, poultry, produce, and store-brand items are digital-only deals. They typically require shoppers to first go online to electronically “clip” the offers to add them to their loyalty card account to be charged the sale price in the store.

Because 25 percent of seniors don’t use the internet and 39 percent don’t have smartphones, according to a 2021 study by the Pew Research Center, they are effectively shut out of these deals. Similarly, 43 percent of low-income households lack broadband internet access.

The consumer groups suggested multiple ways that supermarkets can offer an offline alternative to digital-only deals to accommodate both the digitally-disconnected and the digitally-challenged shoppers, which include: 

  •  Utilizing barcoded “clip or click” store coupons in store circulars so the customer can choose their preferred redemption method (e.g., Vons and The Giant Company).
  • Empowering cashiers to charge the digital price upon request.
  • Offering physical store coupons next to digital-only deals for those who did not/could not electronically “clip” the offer (e.g., H-E-B).

The letter to supermarket executives was sent on November 15 to the following chains: Kroger, Albertsons, Stop & Shop, Star Market/Shaw’s, Ralphs, QFC, Jewel Osco, Randalls, Fred Meyer, King Soopers, Smart & Final, and Safeway.

Consumer Action, Consumer Reports, Consumer World, National Consumers League, and U.S. PIRG are the consumer organizations pressing supermarkets to expand the way they offer digital-only deals.

The full letter can be viewed here.


About the National Consumers League (NCL)

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit