We have all heard the saying, “Nothing in life is free.” What if you could learn how to purchase groceries, toiletries, and household goods at deeply discounted prices? Coupon shopping can do that. Anyone can become a great coupon shopper.
In tough economic times, Americans have become more frugal while shopping. Concerned about the rising cost of food, high unemployment, and the foreclosure epidemic, consumers are seeking more “bang for the buck.” As such, consumers are clipping more coupons and saving more dollars.
Coupons are a quick and easy way to save money at the grocery store. According to the Promotion Marketing Association, spending 20 minutes a week clipping coupons can save the average family about $1,100 a year. Over 164 billion coupons were offered in the first half of 2010, building upon a record-shattering trend in 2009 when 311 billion coupons were distributed in the marketplace.
A recent study indicates that 89 percent of Americans regularly use coupons when shopping for groceries. In fact, nearly $3 billion was saved by consumers using coupons in 2010.
Coupons come in many varieties, the most common being the manufacturer’s coupon. This coupon provides a discount on a particular product and is distributed directly by the manufacturer. Most stores accept manufacturers’ coupons because they receive reimbursement upon redemption.
The coupon itself dates back to a handwritten one for Coca-Cola in 1886. While retailers continue to allocate about 85% of coupons to the free-standing insert cooperative coupon booklet, Internet distribution continues to grow at a pace faster than all other media distribution. Tough times have ignited a desire to save even more at the grocery store.
In the last few years, online promotional codes have become increasingly popular providing discounts ranging from free shipping to a percentage off the purchase price. Among the most popular Internet coupon sites are www.smartsource.com, www.coupons.com, www.valpak.com, www.pgeverydaysolutions.com and www.redplum.com.
A common misconception among non-coupon users is that coupon shoppers have low incomes, are disadvantaged or are struggling financially in these tough economic times. Nothing could be further from the truth.
According to the Nielsen Company, a global leader in measurement and information, the biggest coupons users are Caucasian women under the age of 54 with college degrees and average incomes of more than $70,000 per year. In contradicting every preconceived notion, these women are among what has become known as “heavy coupon users.”
Among those shoppers that are not clipping grocery coupons are the individuals who could benefit the most. Of 100 shoppers who make less than $20,000 a year, just 1.6 percent use coupons to their best advantage. This startling statistic has always puzzled me.
Coupons represent free money and additional income to those who indulge. Quoting from Nielsen’s report, “the better educated and more affluent consumers are much better at looking for deals, as they recognize the value of money.” Nothing can be further from the truth in these tough economic times where grocery bills account for nearly 12 percent of the average family budget.
On the other hand, in a category in which I apparently belong, the savings are more dramatic. As a “coupon enthusiast” – I cannot resist the thrill of “stacking” my way to a great money-saving deal, occasionally earning money back on the purchase of a BOGO item using a manufacturer’s coupon for each, and coupling with a double coupon offer. “If it’s free – it’s for me” is quickly making its way into my vocabulary.
Defined as someone who uses 104 or more coupons in a six-month period, coupon enthusiasts accounted for 65 percent of all coupon usage and 18 percent of all purchases in 2009. Avid coupon users purchased nearly 20 percent of everything bought last year with a coupon.
Coupon enthusiasts love coupons and use them with such frequency that it has become a way of life. Another startling statistic is that approximately 22 percent of shoppers are responsible for 83 percent of all coupons redeemed. Aside from “coupon enthusiasts” and “heavy coupon users”, the remaining 78 percent of shoppers used just 17 percent of all coupons redeemed.
Whether you shop at Albertsons, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Food Lion, Publix, Save-a-Lot, Sam’s Club, Sedanos, Sweetbay, Walmart or Winn-Dixie, each of these stores offer an online section for coupon savings and store discounts. Shoppers visiting the respective websites need only direct themselves to the coupon section then click and print desired grocery coupons.
Albertsons – http://albertsonsmarket.com
BJ’s Wholesale Club – https://www.bjs.com
Food Lion – http://www.foodlion.com
Publix – http://www.publix.com
Save-a-Lot – http://save-a-lot.com
Sam’s Club – http://www.samsclub.com
Sedanos – http://www.sedanos.com
Sweetbay – http://www.sweetbaysupermarket.com
Walmart – http://www.walmart.com/cp/grocery/976759
Winn-Dixie – http://www.winndixie.com
We have all heard the stories of “Coupon Queens” or “Coupon Moms” walking into the grocery store and reducing a hundred dollar bill to about ten dollars by using coupons. Although possible, this is not realistic for the average shopper. In withstanding the ridicule of family, friends, fellow shoppers, and the occasional cashier, I am happy with an average savings of 60 percent at my favorite Publix.
To review Bill Lewis’ entire consumer protection series, visit www.williamlewis.us.
William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates is a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity. To learn more, tune into “The Credit Report with Bill Lewis,” a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues on AM 1470 WWNN.