When I travel around the United States to teach my Super Couponing workshops, I rarely teach coupon doubling as a method that’s essential to saving with coupons. In my experience, the market areas that don’t offer coupon doubling outnumber the areas that do. It’s quite possible to significantly cut your grocery bill in any area, whether your supermarket offers coupon doubling or not – I do this every week in Chicagoland, where I live. None of our major supermarkets offer coupon doubling, while a smaller chain will double five coupons on Wednesdays if you spend $25 in the store. (As you may have guessed, that isn’t exactly a coupon doubling policy that has me racing to that particular store each week!)
Coupon doubling tends to be very regional. Some areas of the country double coupons, while others never have and likely never will.
My roommate and I (both seniors) recently moved from New York to Orlando and we have found that the local supermarkets do not double manufacturer coupons. I wrote to one and they wrote back stating, ‘We feel we have a very friendly coupon policy, and when used in conjunction with our promotions and BOGO products, our customers can save more than they would at most grocery retailers.’
The grocery stores in New York have weekly sales and Buy One Get One Free sales, and they still offer to double and sometimes triple the manufacturer coupons we used. What is wrong with Florida?
Nothing’s “wrong with” Florida – it just isn’t a market that typically doubles coupons. (Remember, I live in an area that doesn’t either.) It’s important to keep in mind that when stores double coupons, the store is typically the party paying for the cost of the doubling. Grocery stores operate on a very slim profit margin – around 5-6 percent. If a store does not have to double coupons to remain competitive in a specific market, it’s not likely that they’re going to. Put yourself in the store’s position – would you willingly give away any of your profits if you didn’t have to?
Truthfully, I would venture to say stores that currently double coupons likely wish to discontinue the practice but cannot for competitive reasons. I’ve told this story in my column before, but it’s worth repeating as it sheds a lot of light on your question. When the Midwest supermarket chain, Meijer, moved into Chicagoland, we were curious to see whether or not they would double coupons. Meijer was doubling coupons at its Michigan and Indiana locations at the time, but when they opened stores in Illinois, guess what? No doubles in Illinois. None of the supermarkets Meijer was competing against in this area offered doubles, so they didn’t have to either – there was no competitive advantage to doing so.
Last year, Meijer stopped doubling coupons in its stores entirely, stating on its Facebook page that less than 5 percent of its shoppers utilized coupon doubling in stores. And, the Kroger chain of supermarkets has slowly been discontinuing the practice of coupon doubling at many of its stores throughout the United States, too. I do believe that within the next few years, we may see a shopping landscape that doesn’t include double coupons at all.
Instead of lamenting the loss of double coupons in your new state, stay optimistic and focus on combining your coupons with sales at your Florida-area stores. This is your “new normal,” and although the game has changed, you can still play on this field. I do!
Smart Living Tip: It’s worth researching your store’s coupon policies with regard to Buy One Get One Free sales. Some retailers allow shoppers to use one coupon on each item in a BOGO, which results in lower out-of-pocket prices for both items. And, other stores allow shoppers to “split” a BOGO sale and only buy one item for half price – a great option if you only have one coupon to use.
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Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.