Trend Alert: Couponing
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Trend Alert: Couponing


You see them walking around the grocery store with their stuffed envelopes or bulging binders. They peruse aisles with a plan and strategy in mind, and you definitely don’t want to get stuck behind them in the check-out line. These are extreme couponers.


“People really take time to strategize and plan out their shopping trips. They have written out lists and have calculated all the costs before they step foot in the Publix,” said Mariana Seabra, who has worked at a local Publix for three years.


Since the late 1800s, Americans have been utilizing coupons to save money. Despite what many people might think, due to the recent attention coupons have been receiving from reality shows like Extreme Couponing, coupon usage has actually decreased 14.3 percent since 2011, according to Inmar.  In 2012, 310 billion coupons were distributed and only 3 billion of those coupons were actually redeemed in stores. Comparatively, in 2011, 3.5 billion coupons were redeemed out of the 313 billion distributed. That has been the highest redemption year to date.  


Although there has been a slight decrease in coupon usage, some couponers are continuing to utilize coupons to their advantage. “I recently saw someone at the park who was reselling a bunch of nonperishable items, like hygienic products and napkins, that she acquired from couponing. I’m not sure how much she actually had to spend, but considering her resale prices, it probably wasn’t a lot,” said student, Jordan Crawford. 


Coupons first became popular from newspaper and publication inserts. These inserts are called free-standing inserts and are still the most distributed and redeemed coupons, which account for 88.8 percent of printed coupons, like the ones you find in a Sunday newspaper. Other coupon types include direct mail, first-time shopper coupons, buy-one-get-one free (BOGO) and free giveaways. These, along with other forms of coupons, accounted for more than $484 billion of coupons that were distributed in 2012. 


As technology advances, it shoppers have more opportunities to find and use coupons. In fact, 67 percent of customers said they would use coupons more if they were more available online. Grocery stores have started to adapt to these trends by offering coupons on their websites, or online, as well as in print. For example, Publix allows shoppers to go online and view digital coupons. Instead of having to print them out and bring them into the store, shoppers can digitally clip the coupon, then type in their phone number at the check-out line to immediately redeem coupons, which makes the process hassle-free. Winn Dixie also allows customers to load e-coupons from their website onto their loyalty cards. 


“I like looking online at the grocery store’s deals and coupons before I actually go to the store. Then I make a list of the discounted items or items that I found coupons for. I’m not extreme about it, or anything, but the most I’ve saved is $21 and I only spent a little over $30,” said Meredith Reagin, a student and local shopper.


The majority of people who use coupons don't consider themselves to be extreme, although 60 percent of shoppers in a survey said they used coupons for more than half of their shopping trips. Even so, there are some people who dedicate hours to finding and clipping coupons so that they can save unheard of amounts of money. Some of these people even walk away without paying a dime, and are actually given money back


“People get really into it and watch the check-out screen like a hawk to make sure that I don’t miss anything. There have been a few times where the person left with over $200 worth of groceries for basically pennies,” said Seabra.


There are restrictions to some coupons, for example, how many you can use or if you need to buy a certain amount for the coupon to be redeemable. Guidelines vary and most are listed on stores' websites. Other restrictions can be found on the coupon itself. For example, Publix accepts manufacturers' coupons, but limits to one per item, while Winn Dixie allows shoppers to stack coupons, meaning they can combine in-store coupons with manufacturer’s coupons, which could be equivalent to paying nearly nothing. 


It may surprise you to learn that, according to Nielson, consumers living in households who have income levels of more than $100,000 are almost twice as likely to use coupons as those living in $35,000 income level households. Most people would assume that a wealthier household doesn't need to use coupons as much. This could be a reflection of technology availability. Since printing coupons and finding coupons via internet and smartphones is becoming more popular, it wouldn’t be as easily accessible to people from lower income households. 


Although coupons decreased in redemption rates last year, the future looks promising for these budget savers. The continual advancement in technology will put ease into coupon usage, making it a more hassle-free and routine activity for shoppers.


Even if you’re not an extreme couponer, coupouning electrictronically, or the old-fashion way, is an easy way to save a few dollars and keep you and your bank account happy.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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