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Are coupons on their way to extinction?

Posted by: John Ewoldt under Technology Updated: June 5, 2014 - 4:44 PM

In my recent article about digital coupons, I wrote that even digital coupons (printed from the Internet or on a smartphone) are not taking the place in the freefall of overall coupon usage.

Digital coupons make up only about 10% of coupons redeemed and overall redemption rates have fallen by 50 percent since the 1990s. While rates are falling gradually (nearly 4 percent in 2013) it's alarming that even during the recession when redemptions increased, it didn't reverse the overall slide.

Keep in mind this freefall is happening at a time when the number of coupons being released is rising, making the disparity between what's available and what's being redeemed even more striking. The industry even has its own cheerleader of a show on TLC, "Extreme Couponing," but maybe that's scaring away more consumers than attracting them.

I have to admit that coupons hold less appeal for me too. Possibly it's because so many coupons are for junk food items or that I'm not trying new items as often. NCH's survey said that hair care, shaving needs and vitamins/supplements and skin care preps are the top distributed coupons, and I don't think I redeemed even one coupon for those items last year.

I'm surprised that I've let my own coupon usage drop as much as I have since I'm a bit of a cheapskate. Anyone else noticing that coupons hold less appeal for you?

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