WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Newspaper coupon redemption actually decreased in 2012!

Posted March 1, 2013


The 2012 coupon redemption numbers are in and the results are very interesting. You would think that in a struggling economy, people would turn to coupons even more, but that was not the case last year. Although newspaper coupon redemption may be down, coupon printing is on the rise, according to the CEO.

Newspaper coupon redemption down

According to the annual report of US coupon trends, issued by Vlassis and NCH Marketing Services Inc., the number one reason why consumers reduced coupon use by 17% in 2012 over 2011 was because they couldn't find coupons for the products they used. Sound familiar?

Even though the total number of newspaper coupons distributed to consumers were the same in 2011 and 2012 (305 billion coupons), there were many more coupons issued for new products last year than the year before. Because the consumer base isn't already established for new products, the redemptions were much lower.  That makes perfect sense. For those who tend to use coupons only for specific name brand products they already use, they won't be interested in coupons for new products they have not tried.

For many of us, though, the coupons for new products are some of the better value coupons and often they are the reason we try a new product. If they didn't offer those coupons for new products, many couponers I know would never even consider the item. 

Additional reasons that the redemption rate decreased:

* Average face value of coupons declined

* Coupons requiring the purchase of 2 or more products increased

* Coupon expiration dates decreased 6.1% to 9.3 weeks on average (8 weeks for non-food items)

Coupon printing increases

On the flip side, the CEO, Steven Boal, just announced that coupon printing on their site has increased significantly. He sees this as an indicator that consumers are under more economic pressure.

Did the study results hit home for you? Was your redemption of newspaper coupons more or less in 2012 than the year before? Are you printing more coupons this year?

So far in 2013, I would have to say that my coupon use overall has increased because of all the super coupon events at Harris Teeter and Lowes Foods. I am also using more printable coupons than ever because so many of their values are often higher than the newspaper coupons.


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  • Nancy Mar 1, 2013

    Definitely agree with you Faye, on using more printables because of their higher values.

    And how many L'Oreal hair colors can one person use and we see those at least twice a month, tons of hair color coupons and make up over and over and over again :(

    Less food coupons in the inserts than anything else and much higher volume of over the counter meds and vitamins/supplements etc.

    That doesn't really hit the 'middle' market so no surprise they aren't being redeemed at the same rate.

    It certainly isn't because of an improved economy that people are not redeeming as many!! It's the selection, value, requirements make them not as likely to be redeemed, at least for me.

    Wonder if the manufacturers will step up the coupon values again? I can only hope so, and hope that the reduction of coupons being redeemed matches a reduction in those products being sold - then they would be motivated to step it up? :)

  • Oxymoron02 Mar 1, 2013

    $ off multiples makes it harder, but only a little. I'm a stockpiler, after all, and when it's a good deal I already am planning to buy several. It's when it's $ off when you buy *A* and *B*, because sometimes A and B are COMPLETELY unrelated, and my family doesn't use/like one of them, or sometimes they're closely related but A is on sale and B is not. I'm not going to get excited that I have $1 off when I buy peanut butter AND jelly when the jelly is on sale for $1 but the peanut butter is $3.50.

  • karenmorris17 Mar 1, 2013

    Coupons from inserts are helpful if you have multiple copies of coupons for things you use regularly. Yet with gas prices going up, coupon expiration dates getting shorter, the value of coupons decreasing, and competition for good coupon deals increasing (thus requiring multiple trips to find the best deals / freebies), I'm using coupons less, shopping at Aldi more, looking for markdowns at my other favorite grocery stores, trying to waste less and cooking from scratch whenever possible. I love coupon deals....that will never change. Yet as competition for the good deals increases, I'm having to change my money-saving strategies.

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Mar 1, 2013

    And thanks for the link to the article, hpierce! I will include it in the story above.

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Mar 1, 2013

    hpirce, I just watched an interview about 30 minutes ago given by the CEO of, who is featured in the article you posted. He indicated that internet coupon printing was up significantly. He did not address newspaper couponing, which is what the NCH report tracked. The interview I saw was more of a marketing message for than anything. He did admit that consumers were printing about 100 million coupons per month and they make their money with every print.

    In my experience, I have found both to be true. I am cutting out and redeeming fewer coupons from the paper and printing and redeeming more printable coupons.

    Because the stories measured different types of coupons (printable vs newspaper) they aren't really opposing. Plus, the NCH report measured all of 2012. The story is really only addressing the very end of 2012 into 2013.

    It will be interesting to see numbers from both sources next year if the full sequester goes into effect this year.

  • hpierce3012 Mar 1, 2013

    i just read a story stating the opposite.... don't know what to believe

  • nceducator79 Mar 1, 2013

    Beatkay...I'm with you.

    I went gluten free last month and feel so much better. The problem is, most products that offer coupons are processed and contain some type of wheat. I do a lot of my shopping at Aldi and Trader Joe's now. I am actually saving money doing this because I am not buying stuff just because it's on sale.

    However, I am going to HT today. They have some deals on a few things we need. I've also started using cash only each week...this has helped a lot. Sure, I'll miss out on some deals because I am out of cash, but I didn't really need them to begin with.

  • nstutt Mar 1, 2013

    I would agree that the face value of coupons has declined and that the quantity required to buy has increased. And I am referring to coupons for the same item in both cases. Plus hasn't the number of inserts in the Sunday paper gone down? I have bought a Sunday paper only twice in the last 5 weeks because the number of coupons especially food coupons has been negligible, as an example.

  • jkparrish Mar 1, 2013

    My coupon use has decreased drastically, because I find most of the items are things I wouldn't want to put in my body anyway. I've actually saved more money by not couponing too, and sticking to basic whole foods. Occasionally I will use a coupon to purchase a rare item, like canned tomatoes, cheese, or special K cereal, but for the most part, I utilize sticking to the outer edge of the grocery store. It makes my wallet and my overall health happy.

  • chipper4800 Mar 1, 2013

    Due to gas costs, I find myself not making extra trips if some of the coupons are about to expire. Have to weigh the cost of using my vehicle vs savings. I try to get everything in my one day a week trip. Since I have a good stock-pile, it still works.