The Fru-Gal: Why coupon redemption fell in 2012

Contributing columnistMarch 22, 2013 

The Fru-Gal Deborah Morris

There’s lots of discussion about why coupon redemption fell 17 percent last year, according to a recent report from a major coupon clearinghouse.

For my part, I think the industry is suffering the effects of the bad image created by TLC’s Extreme Couponing show.

The show promotes people using coupons to hoard large amounts of products they wouldn’t normally buy.

It’s led to people buying coupons online and then selling the free products they get at yard sales.

That’s not what manufacturers had in mind when they distributed the coupon.

And coupon policies are starting to get much tighter to prevent that kind of behavior.

Many of the freebie deals we received in the past have been stopped.

Some coupons now require you buy two or more products to get a discount.

Even stores are tightening their policies. Kroger stores in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati have ended the practice of doubling certain coupons. Other chains like Target, Rite Aid and Walgreens have all instituted stricter coupon policies.

But you can still save money, and that’s been a constant drumbeat since the Great Recession. When I grew up, there was a stigma surrounding people who used coupons. Others thought we were cheap or poor, but that’s not the case. Many middle-class families have always used coupons, and when the economy took a turn for the worse, many, many more learned the value of saving money.

Now you see families, men, women and even children checking coupon binders in stores. And while redemption might be down, I urge you to look for coupons for new products.

I often hear people say they can’t find a coupon for what they use. But one key to saving is not to be loyal to a brand. You have to be open to trying new products.

Always remember, too, that coupons are no limited to just groceries. You can find coupons for most everything in your life from car repairs and hair cuts to clothing and restaurants.

Even a small savings is more money in your pocket, and more money means it’s easier to pay off debts or more to spend on vacations or dining out.

Deborah Morris’ weekly column, The Fru-Gal, can help you save money. Feel free to share tips on The Fru-Gal blog at and visit her website,

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