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Are we (and our coupons) driving restaurants out of business?

Posted by: John Ewoldt under Coupons Updated: May 18, 2011 - 9:14 AM

 

In today's article about using coupons in restaurants, I wrote that more people are comfortable pulling out a coupon at the table, including holdouts such as men and young adults.

 

 

But after interviewing several restaurant owners, I wonder if consumers are aware  that restaurants lose money when people bring a coupon and buy enough only to satisfy the deal. Many restaurants are offering the daily deal only when customers take advantage of the deal never to return unless another deal is offered.

So why do so many restaurants offer the deals if they're a money-losing proposition? It's because they can't get loans, so they raise quick cash with a daily deal, said Dave Ostlund, publisher of the Twin Cities Food Finds Restaurant Guide.   

Conventional wisdom says that coupons are a way to get new customers. If customers likes it, they come back again without a coupon and everything evens out. But too many customers in this economy don't go back unless they have a coupon.

Some people are going to say that restaurants are to blame. They baited us with coupons and now we're eating out as if we're dining at Kohl's---we wait until it's on sale. If it's not on sale, we go somewhere else. 

If we start to see fewer restaurant deals out there, that's not necessarily a bad thing for the restaurant industry. Restaurateurs are not getting rich. I worry that we'll see more restaurants closing their doors after they dug themselves a hole filled with coupons.  

As someone loves to dine out, I plan to be more conscious of a restaurant's  bottom line as well as my own. If I use a coupon, I can order a drink or an appetizer too. And I can return to a favorite spot without a coupon too. 

Businesses have many repsonsibilities but I think consumers do too. For example, don't try to take something for next to nothing. Your thoughts?

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