By Jill Cataldo, Coupon Queen, Published March 23 2012
COUPON QUEEN: Double coupons tend to be regional
Q: Why do some stores double coupons and others don’t? It drives me crazy that my sister can get double the value of her coupons at the stores near her, but the ones near me never offer a similar deal. How can I get my store to double my coupons?
– Emily R.
A: Coupon doubling is when a store offers to double the value of a coupon at checkout. For example, a doubled 50-cent coupon for pasta sauce takes $1 off the price. Markets that offer double coupon promotions are a hot spot for coupon shoppers. But as you noted, not all supermarkets take part.
Doubling tends to be a regional phenomenon. Some areas have it, others don’t. When a store doubles a coupon, it is offering customers an additional incentive to shop there versus shopping at a competitor. But stores lose money when they offer these deals, so they’re not always eager to do so.
No store has an obligation to double coupons. It’s a powerful promotional tool retailers use to lure shoppers and keep them coming back. In less competitive markets, stores aren’t likely to offer them.
Where I live in suburban Chicago, stores rarely double coupons. Some occasionally run promotions doubling five coupons on a certain day, usually with a $25 minimum purchase. I’ll take what I can get, but doubling with restrictions is just that: restrictive.
A few years ago, a new grocery chain opened stores in our area. This chain operates stores in Indiana and Michigan, and doubles coupons in those states. But the chain doesn’t double coupons in Chicago. Why not? Because the competitive situation in our market doesn’t require it. The store was smart enough to look at the other two supermarket chains in Chicago; neither of them double coupons, so this new chain chose not to, either.
If stores in your area don’t double coupons, don’t fret. There are plenty of ways to save big with coupons, even without coupon promotions. If you do take advantage of coupon doubling, you might wonder the same thing this reader did.
Q: Why do some coupons state, “Do not double?” If the store is paying to double the coupon, why should the company who makes the item care if it is doubled? – Tamara H.
A: Manufacturers limit discounts for a couple of reasons. They might think of their product as high-end and not want it to look like a bargain buy.
The coupons you find on shelf tear pads and in automatic dispensers almost always state, “Do not double.” This is to protect the store from taking a big hit on a particular offer given the hundreds of coupons right there for the taking. And while the store agreed to double coupons, they’re banking on shoppers bringing in their own coupons, not redeeming half a dispenser at once. Putting “Do not double” on in-store coupons protects the store. When manufacturers want to place more dispensers on the shelves, they are happy to oblige.
Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.