California Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp urged the Federal Trade Commission to reject the proposed purchase by Vons of Safeway's 172 Southern California stores, saying the merger would "decrease competition and increase costs to the consumer." In May, the FTC granted conditional approval of the deal. Van de Kamp's office filed a 43-page comment on the merger, and a spokeswoman indicated that it probably will also issue a comment about the proposed combination of Lucky Stores and American Stores, which owns Alpha Beta. "Together," Van de Kamp said, "these two mergers represent an unprecedented consolidation of firms in the grocery industry and raise serious questions about their effect on competition." A Vons spokeswoman noted that the FTC had conducted a thorough investigation of the Safeway purchase before issuing preliminary approval.