If any major retailer shows just how out of control the phenomenon known as "extreme couponing" has gotten, it's J.C. Penney. In the first quarter of this year alone, the store reported losing a whopping $55 million, all because of couponing moms.
And it wasn't highly discounted coupons that were to blame for the drastic drop in sales. Nope. It was the fact that in February, J.C. Penney announced its plans to get rid of coupons for good. But unfortunately, they also managed to get rid of deal-seeking moms altogether as well.
Even though they lowered their prices by as much as 40 percent when they ditched the coupons, basically eliminating the need for them altogether, moms still went elsewhere to shop. If anything, their exit only helps to prove what a huge addiction shopping with coupons can be. Extreme couponing moms don't care about the price tag -- it's all about the thrill of seeing additional money taken off at the register.
I've said in the past that I have nothing against coupons, but when I wind up in the grocery store check-out line behind someone with an entire fistful of them, I tend to get more than a little bit annoyed. But in the case of department stores, even I have been known to go in with a single coupon for an extra 20 or 30 percent off -- or whatever the deal happens to be. (Who can resist saving a few bucks on a high-end pair of jeans?)
Every time I get one of those ah-maz-ing deals, I can't resist telling everyone who will listen (translation -- I update my Facebook status) about how much money I saved on an item that normally would've cost $100 bucks (or whatever). And I'm guessing in the case of extreme couponers, they feel the exhilaration of finding the deal of the century 100 times more than I do. And this is why J.C. Penney needs to seriously rethink their coupon strategy.
Having standard low prices is great, but moms aren't going to notice those low prices if they are seeing ads in the paper or finding emails in their inbox that offer extra savings at other stores who offer coupons. Nine times out of ten, coupon moms are going to choose the store where they can experience the thrill of the deal, even if they wind up paying the same price for the same item they'd get at J.C. Penney without having to use the coupon.
If Penney's really wants to reel their mom shopper base back in, they should probably reinstate at least a few coupon deals each month to satisfy money saving cravings. Extreme couponers are here to stay -- whether retailers like it or not. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!
The commercial below shows J.C. Penney's rationale behind cutting coupons. It definitely makes sense, but some addictions are just too hard to break.
Are you more likely to shop at a store that offers set, low prices -- or are you a coupon mom?
Image via crazytales562/Flickr