With many families struggling to make ends meet, coupons are making a big comeback this year

Posted at 4:39 PM, Nov 27, 2020
and last updated 2021-01-05 15:38:54-05

DENVER — If there is one thing Laura Daily knows how to do, it’s find a good deal; Daily is the owner of Mile High on the Cheap, a website aimed at helping people in the Denver Metro area find ways to save money.

“We were born out of the recession in 2009 and we think that now we needed more than ever,” Daily said. “As we say, we do the work so you don’t have to.”

On the Mile High on the Cheap website, users will find a whole range of offers, from where to see Santa or holiday lights for free to where to shop for the best deals on groceries.

Unlike in years past when piles of deals would be delivered to your door in the Sunday newspaper or through the mail, these days many coupons have gone digital, which can make them more difficult to find.

Nevertheless, more people are using coupons during the pandemic in an effort to try to save money.

“Post-pandemic, we’ve seen digital coupons jump off the chart,” said John Helmle, the executive vice president and president of Fintech at Inmar Intelligence. “In May, we did a survey and we saw almost in 93% increase in loyalty sign up and almost a 50% increase in digital redemptions as a result of consumers desires to get a deal in this new world.”

Inmar Intelligence compiles data for some of the largest retailers, manufacturers and brands in the country to give them better insight into consumer trends.

During the Great Recession, the group noticed a 15% increase in paper coupon redemptions in 2008 and another 6% increase in 2009.

Before that, the use of paper coupons in particular was declining.

“There’s a couple of factors that align well with coupon redemption, one of which is the state of the economy. Whenever there is higher unemployment and low wages, we do see the response continued to be more prevalent,” Helmle said.

This year, the group has seen even more shoppers turning to coupons to save, including a lot of first timers. A recent study by Inmar Intelligence found that more than 90% of shoppers said they are looking for a deal.

“Consumers are only as loyal as their wallet allows them to be, so if there’s not a coupon in the marketplace, they’re going to make a different decision,” Helme said.

For retailers, there are a few big reasons to offer coupons to customers, even during difficult financial times.

First, the discounts can establish loyalty with the customers and keep them coming back to the same store.

Second, coupons can encourage new customers to try out the store or brand. Third, the deals can help move more products out of the store.

There is, however, a difference between this recession and the previous one. Helmle says fewer shoppers are wanting to go into the store, so paper coupons are less relevant than ones that can be redeemed online.

Most digital coupons offered by retailers come through their loyalty programs. Helmle says the average shopper can save between 10 and 20% or even more if coupons are stacked on top of one another.

He encourages shoppers to check out the retailer’s website, sign up for their loyalty program or subscribe to their email list for the best deals.

“I would encourage shoppers to continue to look for deals in all different avenues and channels,” Helmle said. “Get creative and aggressive, there’s a lot of websites out there that offer certain deals and I think if you put some time into it, you’re really going to like what you see.”

As for Daily, she says she will keep searching for deals and posting them on her website, hoping to help people rebound by saving a few dollars at a time.

“We’re all in this together and we want to get through this together,” Daily said.