Super Coupon Tips: Plumbing the mysteries of double coupons
This week, my inbox was packed with questions about double couponing.
Question: “How is it that grocery stores in some areas of the country get double coupon promotions and others do not?”
At stores that double coupons, the coupon will scan at the register for double the face value. So, a 50-cent coupon rings up as a $1 discount. As you can imagine, shopping at a store that doubles coupons can really maximize savings.
However, coupon doubling (and even tripling in some areas) tends to be very regional. Stores in some parts of the country double coupons, while stores in other areas do not. Typically, though, if a supermarket in one market area doubles, the competing supermarkets will, too. However, if your store does double coupons, don’t assume that they will double every coupon you hand the cashier. Many stores have policies in place that limit doubling to a certain number of coupons per shopping trip.
If stores in your area do not double coupons, don’t worry. Despite what you may have seen on reality TV shows about extreme couponing, double couponing is not the only key to unlocking great savings. No stores in my area double coupons and I still enjoy an average savings of 50 percent to 70 percent each week with my coupons at the checkout lane. You can do very well by matching coupons, doubled or not, to the best sales each week at the store.
Question: “When a store doubles coupons, who pays for the doubling?”
In most cases, the store underwrites the additional cost of double coupons. Retailers eat the cost difference between the face value of the coupon and the amount it scans for at the register. Coupon doubling is an incentive for the shopper to choose to shop at this store versus one of the store’s competitors. Obviously, it’s a nice perk for shoppers. If a store that doubles coupons is in the same market area as one that doesn’t, it’s very likely that coupon shoppers will gravitate to the coupon-doubling store. Supermarkets operate on very thin profit margins. Stores that offer coupon doubling may be willing to give up part of their hard-earned profits to build a customer base. Given the costs involved, if a store does not have to double coupons in order to stay competitive, typically it will not.
Neither of the two major supermarket chains in my area doubles coupons. A few years ago, a third chain opened stores nearby. This chain also operates in neighboring states, and it doubles coupons at all locations. We were very curious to see what would happen when the new stores opened up here. Would they double coupons here as they do out-of-state? Sad to say, they don’t – again, because they don’t need to in order to stay competitive.
In some cases a store may invoice the manufacturer for the coupon doubling as part of a specific promotion. But typically, stores absorb most of the cost for coupon doubling.
Question: “Why do some coupons say Do Not Double?
It would seem to make no difference to a manufacturer whether or not a coupon is doubled, especially since stores absorb the cost of doubling. However, some manufacturers believe that coupon doubling may lower the perceived value of their product or brand if a shopper can reduce its price to a point where it’s very inexpensive or even free. Even if a manufacturer does not compensate the store for the doubling, it may not want its brand perceived as a bargain buy. The Do Not Double wording on a coupon helps ensure the coupon will only allow the specified value to be discounted from that product. Additionally, in a situation where a manufacturer may indeed reimburse the store for a particular double-coupon promotion, it will not have to reimburse the doubled value of this coupon if it contains the Do Not Double wording.
• Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about couponing at her website, http://www.jillcataldo.com. Email her at email@example.com.