Coupon doubling, the practice of a store scanning coupons at twice the value, is a popular promotion in some areas. While scanning a 50-cent coupon and receiving a $1.00 discount is attractive to consumers, it isn’t quite as attractive to retailers. Who pays for the doubled value of that coupon? In most cases, the store does. With stores operating on tight profit margins and facing increasing operating costs, many large chains have phased out or begun phasing out coupon doubling. Other retailers restrict doubles to certain days of the week or transactions over a certain dollar amount.
In my experience, doubling depends on a lot of factors. Certain parts of the country tend to have more stores that double coupons than others do, and market areas considered to be “affluent” (whether we agree with that term or not!) tend not to offer as many double coupon promotions. In some regions, retailers double coupons simply because a competitor store in the area is also doubling coupons – they’ve decided to “play along” and double coupons, too, so they don’t lose market share to their competitor.
My readers continue to share their questions and observations on coupon doubling:
I just read your last column on why stores do or do not double coupons. You commented that a new store in your area decided not to double coupons when it entered your market area [even though it doubled coupons in other states] because “there was no competitive advantage to doing so.”
Would they not have a competitive advantage over other supermarkets in the area if they doubled coupons and others did not? Would doing so not increase their customer base because the other stores weren’t providing the same incentive that the new store would have been?
Of course, there is the trap of not wanting to be the first one to stop doubling once it spreads to other chains, but that’s what marketing is all about: trying to find the next competitive advantage – until the competition follows suit.
I do agree that from the shoppers’ perspective, a new store doubling coupons would certainly be more enticing than one that didn’t, especially in a market area lacking double coupons. I don’t have “inside information” for this particular chain, but their public promotional strategy tends to revolve around the messaging that their prices are very good week to week, and the store has other features that it deemed more attractive to lure shoppers in – good prices on organic produce, one-stop shopping for other categories (automotive, clothing, housewares) that traditional supermarkets don’t serve.
I would guess that the store determined it didn’t have to offer double coupons in order to be successful – and indeed, that was the case. The chain recently phased out double coupons in all states, citing a desire to boost its electronic store coupon promotions over regularly doubling coupons.
I wanted to add a comment about coupon doubling. Many stores increase the cost of their products when they offer coupon doubling or tripling. Occasionally our Schnucks market will offer to triple coupons under a certain amount. I was all ready to head down there when I noticed that another store in my area had some of the same items on sale. When using the coupons at face value at the other store, I purchased the products at a lower price than if I would have gone to Schnucks and had my coupons tripled! Don't assume just because a store will double or triple your coupon you are getting the best deal on the item! Someone has to pay for the cost of doubling the coupon and if the store can pass the expense on to the consumer, most likely they will one way or another.
Smart Living Tip: Despite what you may have seen on television on “extreme” shopping shows, coupon doubling isn’t the secret to savings success at the supermarket. Paying attention to pricing cycles and the high/low peaks and dips that prices take is the key. Pair a cyclically low price with a coupon, and you’re taking items home at the lowest possible prices.
© CTW Features
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.