It used to be that every store offered double coupons and some even offered triple the value on special shopping days. These days, though, as more and more stores discontinue the practice, couponers are worried that they're not going to save as much money on their grocery bills.
How coupons work
First, it's important to understand how coupons work. The manufacturer is using that coupon to promote its product, as a way to attract attention – not as a goodwill gesture to help you save money. When you redeem that coupon, the manufacturer reimburses your store for the face value of the coupon.
If your store doubles or triples that coupon your store eats the difference. Essentially, they're taking a loss every time they double your coupon.
Of course, no grocery store would stay in business long if they kept paying you to buy their groceries, so somewhere along the line every store that doubles or triples coupons is making up the difference with higher prices on other items in the store.
By not doubling coupons your store is able to save money in a couple of ways. They have fewer coupons they have to count and track every week, which means the spend fewer labor hours processing coupons, and they aren't losing money with every doubled coupon.
Stores that discontinue doubling coupons generally appease their shoppers by promising lower prices on their total shopping bill, and that's generally what happens so don't panic if your store changes its policy.
Be calm, patient and organized
Your first inclination when you hear the announcement might be to start looking for another grocery store. Chances are that would mean additional mileage and additional time spent driving to and fro.
Instead, don't panic. Your store didn't make this decision hastily and they're going to put some planning into it. When they finally do stop doubling coupons they'll also institute those price decreases but it may take you a few weeks to get oriented. Better to be patient and give it a try than to spend extra money on gas just so you can save a couple of bucks each week.
Stores will always have sales and they'll probably always accept coupons. Have your shopping list ready when you enter the store so you're not distracted and you'll have more time to look for those price reductions and compare prices.
Donna Anderson is a frugal grandmother. She and her frugal daughter, Jessica Crowe, spend just a few hours to save hundreds of dollars off their grocery bill each week. Visit them at TheHappyCouponer.com for weekly coupon match-ups and coupon alerts.
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- Coupon etiquette: Mind your manners while you save
- The low-down on double and triple coupons
- National Coupon Month: Fun facts and actual statistics