Coupon Shopping 101 – September is National Coupon Month


In this tough economic time, Americans have become more frugal when shopping for groceries. While we continue to be concerned about high unemployment, the foreclosure crisis, the rising cost of food and living in general, consumers are seeking more bang for the buck. As such, consumers are clipping more coupons and saving more dollars.

September is National Coupon Month and a reminder that clipping coupons is an easy and fun way to save. Whether you shop at Albertsons, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Food Lion, Publix, Save-a-Lot, Sedanos, Sweetbay, Walmart or Winn-Dixie, each week this month I will provide advice on how to save 40 percent or more on your grocery bill.

Clipping coupons and seeking deals remains commonplace as consumers brace for National Coupon Month for a 13th consecutive year. Both coupon distribution and use have increased significantly over the past 12 months. A recent study shows that 89 percent of Americans have regularly used coupons when shopping for groceries, household and healthcare items.

The coupon itself dates back to a handwritten one for Coca-Cola in 1886. While retailers continue to allocate the largest share (85 percent) of coupons to the free-standing insert cooperative coupon booklet, Internet distribution continues to grow at a pace faster than all other media distribution. Among the most popular online coupon services is www.coupons.com and www.redplum.com.

According to an NCH Coupon Facts Report, shoppers saved nearly $2 billion with coupons in the first-half of 2010 as redemption increased 7.9 percent during that period. “While the coupon has long been a mainstay of marketing campaigns to build brand loyalty and attract new buyers, it has evolved over the course of time to reach fragmented consumers in innovative and creative ways,” said Charlie Brown, NCH vice president of marketing and member of Promotion Marketing Association’s board. “It is a core tool of today’s and tomorrow’s consumer who will continue to demand savings and value.”

Approximately 164 billion consumer packaged goods (CPG) coupons were offered by retailers in the first half of 2010, an increase of 11.4 percent from a year ago. This growth builds on record-breaking trends in 2009 when 311 billion coupons were distributed in the marketplace. In 2009, coupon redemption increased 23 percent – the second highest year-over-year rate ever recorded. The average consumer reported a reduction of eight percent on their grocery bill with a $3.5 billion savings nationwide.

There was a different mindset when the PMA launched its first National Coupon Month campaign in 1998. Aimed at heightening awareness and increasing coupon usage, the majority of coupons were in print. Today they are available from a variety of sources – in print from free-standing inserts, from the retailer, directly attached to the product, on the Internet via printable coupons or coupon codes, as well as mobile devices for point-of-sale scanning.

Not only have the delivery methods exploded, but the categories have expanded greatly from grocery stores to restaurants, clothing, home improvement and everything in between. In fact, I now find myself bargaining on everything from food and clothes, to household goods and vehicles, to my children’s private school tuition.

“Today’s shopper doesn’t leave home without coupons and actively seeks out savings,” said Bonnie Carlson, PMA president. “While the state of the economy has spurred this new shopping behavior, marketers are taking note and answering the consumers’ call by putting more coupons in the marketplace. Today’s informed and strategic shopper is here to stay as lessons learned during the recession have transformed the way they spend and save their hard-earned money.”

In celebration of the 13th annual savings campaign, RedPlum.com, is offering high-value deals each day throughout September. As one of the fastest growing online coupon and value lifestyle Internet sites, they are offering a “Dash for Deals” campaign whereby an exclusive page featuring printable coupons, coupon codes, samples or free offerings can be found at www.redplum.com/dash. As coupon quantities are limited, visitors must “dash” to download that day’s offer. Advertisers range from restaurants to retailers, grocery, health and beauty care, drugstores and much more.

To learn more about the Promotion Marketing Association and National Coupon Month, please visit http://www.nationalcouponmonth.com.

Source:  The Credit Report with Bill Lewis – Highlands Today, an edition of the Tampa Tribune (Media General Group).  http://www2.highlandstoday.com/content/2010/sep/05/coupon-shopping-101/columns-welewisjr/

William E. Lewis Jr., is a credit repair expert with Credit Restoration Consultants and host of “The Credit Report with Bill Lewis” on AM 1470 WWNN, a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues

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