Food Coupons take a tumble

The Lempert Report
August 26, 2014

There's been a 3.9% drop in food coupons distributed during the first half of 2014

Are food coupons on the decline? Recent data from New Marx, seems to signify this may be the case.  According to their numbers there's been a  3.9% drop in food coupons distributed during the first half of 2014, with the most pronounced drop occurring in refrigerated categories.  In addition to this, coupons also had a shorter shelf life with expiration dates dropping to about 8.2 weeks, down 1.3%. The thinking behind this may be to build more shopper urgency as well as higher weighted average face values (80 cents, up 6.4%) to appeal more to shoppers.

Why the drop in refrigerated items?  Dan Kittrell, VP of account solutions at New Marx, suggests this may be a reflection of the  “unique challenges for these categories…securing incremental in-store display support, avoiding out-of-stocks on the shelf, and aligning with shoppers’ limited ability to stock up during promotions.”

And what does this all mean for supermarkets? When food manufacturers feel that the usually reliable activity of couponing may not provide the desired lift, it reinforces the vulnerability of food stores to smaller, more convenient outlets for more frequent yet lower ticket quick trips.  It also signals a bigger message to us that alternate formats continue to encroach steadily on food and nonfood sales.

To support this idea,  these alternate channels took the Top 6 spots for “retail promotion pages circulated with traditional FSI vehicles” during the first half of 2014, shows Marx.  They are Walmart, Walgreens, Target, Family Dollar, Dollar General and CVS.  In all, retailer promotion pages soared by 26.8% to more than 14.5 billion pages in the period; Walmart’s alone rose 45.9% to more than 5.2 billion pages.