Over the past few months, there has been a lot of buzz about “extreme couponing.” Shoppers obsessively clip coupons and buy large amounts of goods for pennies. Large retail firms are taking notice, and there is a growing backlash against copious quantities of coupons.
Coupon use skyrocketing thanks to dour economy and reality television
Throughout the recession, there has been a noticeable rise in the practice of clipping coupons, especially since reality television started documenting “extreme couponing.” According to CNN, coupon use was found by marketing firm Immar to have risen 27 percent in 2009 alone. The site Couponmom.com had only 200,000 members in 2008 and now has more than 4.7 million and daily traffic of about 175,000 visits to the site. Membership started spiking after the show “Extreme Couponing” debuted on TLC earlier this year. Stories about Groupon are on business news sites every day. That site has exploded in popularity with its daily deals.
The backlash begins
The story of a woman banned from Walmart for life began circulating recently. April Cuevas, according to ABC, was told she couldn’t use a Target coupon at a Walmart in Nampa, Idaho, though the Walmart’s “Ad Match” policy is that Walmart honors a competitors’ coupons. While trying to argue that with a manager, a separate incident took place in the store and she was told to leave when she was seen recording the incident on her iPhone. She was later informed by police that she was banned from all Walmarts for life. Walmart later rescinded the ban, but her avid coupon clipping may have played a part. Cuevas is a known extreme coupon clipper. Other stores are resisting heavy use of coupons. Rite Aid, according to CBS Moneywatch, no longer allows multiple “buy-one-get-one” or “BOGO” as such offers are called, coupons to be used at the same time. Target no longer allows “coupon stacking” for “BOGO” items, so customers cannot use coupons to get “buy-one-get-one” items for free. Procter & Gamble, according to NBC affiliate WKYC in Ohio, now only allows four of the same coupon at the same time.
Power of reality television
On the TLC show “Extreme Couponing,” people routinely go into a store and purchase hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in goods for only a few dollars thanks to prudent use of coupons. The subjects’ houses are also shown stuffed full of things like toilet paper, spaghetti sauce and bottled water that they have years of supply for. According to the Vancouver Sun, 70 percent of heavy coupon use in 2010 is thought to be directly because of media influence. Retailers are getting wise, and extreme deals may not last.