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Whole Foods' half-price LivingSocial deal has shoppers scrambling

September 13, 2011 | 10:32 am

Wholefoods 

Hungry for a discount? Whole Foods Market Inc., the largest U.S. natural-foods grocer and high-priced haven to the locavore-meets-vegan-meets-foodie crowd, on Tuesday is selling 1 million coupons on the LivingSocial website.

The deal from the Texas-based chain: $10 gets you $20 worth of groceries. But it’s a deal that also aims to help bolster children's health, say company officials. Fifty cents from each coupon sold will be donated to the company’s Whole Kids Foundation, which works to help combat childhood obesity.

Daily deal sites have long offered food promotions, but industry watchers point out that the deals are typically good only at a single grocery site or at small restaurant venues, rather than at a mainstream grocer that has locations across the country. Grocery store chains, such as Ralphs and Albertsons, have long offered deals and coupons through their websites to people who sign up for their loyalty programs,  but the discounts are typically not this steep.

On Tuesday, LivingSocial officials touted the deal as the first such grocery deal to be offered on a national level.

Here how it works: LivingSocial subscribers –- or anyone who signs up Tuesday -– can buy the deal for the $10-for-$20 voucher. After the purchase clears, the person takes that voucher into any Whole Foods location. Store officials will then exchange the voucher for a $20 gift card.

It is free to sign up for LivingSocial, which can be found here. (No coupon hording: One voucher per person.)

As of 10:13 a.m. PDT, 602,821 vouchers had been sold, according to the LivingSocial website.

“We’re not a traditional grocery,” company spokeswoman Kate Lowery told Bloomberg News. “We’re always looking for alternatives and ways for our shoppers to save.”

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-- P.J. Huffstutter

Photo: Shoppers browse the cheese and charcuterie section of a Whole Foods Market in El Segundo. Credit: Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times

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