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Sunday marked a big change at area Meijer stores.
The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer ended its practice of doubling coupon values, and is instead expanding its array of digital coupons provided through the chain’s online mPerks program.
Frank Guglielmi, a Meijer spokesman, said the company discontinued “double coupons” in about a third of its stores in late May and then ended the practice at its remaining stores, including those in the Toledo area, on Sunday. The retailer still accepts coupons at face value.
David Livingston, a grocery industry analyst based in Milwaukee, said coupon programs are expensive and it could be Meijer no longer saw value in offering double coupons.
“This is probably more of a strategic move because maybe they feel they’re not getting the business they want. Coupon programs are expensive, and a lot of the times you get cherry-picking, that is, coupon clippers or extreme couponers who are only interested in select items,” Mr. Livingston said.
“Maybe Meijer’s at a point that they’re just not seeing the business they expect to get from it and they’ve decided to put their money elsewhere,” he added.
Mr. Guglielmi, the Meijer spokesman, said fewer than 5 percent of Meijer customers took advantage of double coupons. However, more than 1.6 million customers have joined the retailer’s mPerks program, which offers digital coupons, special offers, and rewards.
Coupons are available often in the daily Blade and always in the Sunday edition of The Blade. The newspaper’s Coupon Queen feature, which can be found at toledoblade.com/coupon-queen, offers a listing of every coupon available to clip from The Blade's Sunday print edition. The Blade's Web site also has links to the week’s grocery and retail ads at toledoblade.com/weeklyads.
Both Kroger and Giant Eagle said they still provide double coupons. Walmart did not respond to inquiries about its coupon policies.
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Kroger doubles manufacturers' coupons with a face value up to 50 cents, while Giant Eagle doubles coupons with a face value up to 99 cents or less — but only if they are used with the retailer’s Giant Eagle Advantage Card.
“We have no plans in the foreseeable future to stop doubling coupons. Also, we’ve had questions about it and no, we are not going to stop accepting paper coupons either,” Kroger spokesman Jackie Siekmann said.
“Giant Eagle continues to double manufacturer coupons up to 99 cents as one of the many ways customers can save. … As an organization we continually evaluate national and regional consumer trends to ensure that we deliver these saving opportunities in ways that resonate with our customers,” Dan Donovan, a Giant Eagle spokesman, said in a statement.
But both retailers said the use of electronic coupons is a growing part of their business. Customers access the electronic coupons through their loyalty card accounts.
Inmar, a North Carolina company that analyzes and processes more than 2.3 billion coupons a year, said 2013 could be a bellwether year for coupons as the consumer market either returns to clipping paper coupons or moves more heavily into digital coupons.
In its March trends report for the coupon industry, Inmar noted that 2012 showed a 14.3 decrease in coupon use overall, from 3.5 billion in 2011 to just 3 billion last year.
Inmar also noted in a July report that redemption of digital coupons — either those sent electronically and printed out at home or those that are paperless and used by smart phones — both saw large increases in the first half of the year.
Contact Jon Chavez at: email@example.com or 419-724-6128.