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Why more and more stores have stopped doubling coupons

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When your favorite grocery store stops doubling coupons do you stomp off in a snit and vow to never shop there again? Don't take it personally. The store manager doesn't hate everybody who uses coupons. He just hates what double coupons have done to his business.

It's important to remember that grocery stores have nothing to do with the actual coupons. The decision to print a coupon is made by the manufacturer. Like TV commercials and magazine ads, they're simply another method of advertising their products.

It's common knowledge that the manufacturers reimburse the grocery stores for the value of each coupon they redeem, plus a few cents extra for handling fees. So, when you redeem that coupon for 50 cents off a can of soup, the manufacturer gives the store back 50 cents in exchange for your coupon.

When you redeem a coupon for face value the manufacturer is the only one who takes the hit. He's had to pay to have that coupon printed, and now he has to reimburse the grocery store that allowed you to redeem it.

So far, it's a win-win situation. The coupon got your attention, you purchased the product and it didn't cost the grocer anything to make you happy. But double coupons are a completely different scenario.

Somewhere along the line, way back when, a grocery store manager said, “I bet I could bring in more customers and make more sales if I offered to give them double the value for their manufacturers' coupons.” And he was right. It worked.

But the manufacturer who printed that coupon didn't have anything to do with that promotion way back then and they still don't today. The decision to double or triple a manufacturers' coupon is made by the store for the purpose of promoting the store – not the product.

Every time your favorite grocery store gives you double the value of your coupon they take a massive hit because the manufacturer only reimburses them for the face value of the coupon.

So let's say you have a coupon for 50 cents off a can of soup and the regular retail price on that soup is $1. If your store doubles coupons, then you'll get that can of soup for free.

But, that can of soup didn't just magically appear on the store's shelf. The store had to buy it from the manufacturer and it probably cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 cents.

If you paid full price for the soup the store would make 30 cents profit. If you used that coupon for 50 cents off, the store would still make a profit because the manufacturer will reimburse the store manager for the coupon.

However, if your store doubles the value of your coupon, then it loses 20 cents every time you buy a can of soup.

A long time ago when the first grocer decided to double the value of coupons to help promote it was just another advertising expense, like a super-sale or mega-event, and it worked.

But super-sales and mega-events are never meant to last forever. At some point the sale has to end. At some point you have to stop giving away the store and find another way to promote your business.

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Donna Anderson is one-half of The Happy Couponers duo. Together, she and her daughter, Jessica Crowe, hope to make the world a happier place for everybody who wants to save money on groceries. They share their coupon tips at The Happy Couponer blog and clipping service.

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