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  • Why Stores Stop Doubling Coupons

    SoCal shoppers got some bad news yesterday when word got out that the new Vons/Pavilions ad states that as of August 1, 2012, coupons will only be accepted at face value. When I stopped in at Vons this morning, they had signs up at the register about the new coupon policy. Since Ralphs stopped doubling in the spring, the move leaves Albertsons as the only local chain that doubles coupons, and even then only with a Twice the Value coupon and in limited quantities – and it seems like only a matter of time before Albertsons stops doubling altogether, and/or is sold off to a competitor.

    From what I’ve read about couponing, manufacturers reimburse stores for the face value of the coupon, but the “doubled” value is covered by the store. So, by ceasing to double coupons, stores automatically increase their profit margin – assuming, of course, that people keep shopping there.

    The economy has been so bad for so long now, and coupon use has increased dramatically. My guess is that the increased redemption of coupons, especially at grocery stores, is noticeably affecting the bottom line of retailers. From their point of view, why not experiment with ceasing doubling and see if customers keep shopping anyway?

    The most effective way to “fight back” as a customer is to not shop at Ralphs and Vons anymore. If stores see that their coupon policy is keeping customers away instead of creating an incentive for them to come in, they’ll go back to their old ways. In fact, Tia reminded me when Ralphs changed their policy a few months ago, that they and Vons did away with doubles completely a few years back, but it didn’t last.

    My hope is that will happen again. Without substantial loss leaders to attract customers, the mainstream markets become less attractive when customers have choices like Trader Joe’s, plus all of the smaller, ethnic markets in Los Angeles and all of SoCal.

    Personally, I’ve found myself shopping much less often at Ralphs than I did before the coupon policy changed. And that will probably be the case for me with Vons as well. During the big grocery workers’ strike almost ten years ago, many shoppers turned to Trader Joe’s and never looked back. In fact, that was when I started doing most of my grocery shopping at TJ’s and it was only couponing that drew me back to Ralphs about four years ago. I think something similar might happen again. What do you think?


    1. I remember many years ago when Ralphs doubled all of your coupons, then they changed to doubling only 4 like coupons and it has now dwindled to doubling only 1 like coupon. I used to go out of my way to shop at Ralphs and even Vons, but hardly shop the two anymore. If I spot a thing or 2 at Vons or Ralphs, I can just price match it at Walmart and shop my other local stores for my produce to save more.

      • Chief Family Officer says:

        That’s an excellent point – I really need to get used to price matching at Target since there’s no Walmart near me. Thanks for the suggestion!

    2. Coupon Cal says:

      I am definitely going to Ralph’s a lot less now. I was going to VONS about 3 times per year, and now that number will be zero.

      • Chief Family Officer says:

        Do you use the just for U program? If I continue shopping at Vons regularly, it’ll be because of the deals offered through that program.

    3. I remember a few years ago when Ralphs announced they would cease doubles, and soon afterward I happened to make a coupon purchase and I noticed it was doubled. I asked the cashier about it and she replied that they still doubled. It was all kind of hush hush and I don’t remember any formal announcement being made. But I sure was glad to know I could still count on them for doubling. Now that Vons has joined the no-doubles band-wagon, I’ll have to rely on Just 4 U and the 99 cents store to keep my grocery budget in check. But if anyone happens to make a purchase in the next few months and notices a hushed double coupon, let us know! Thanks! (Ps, my local Ralphs store still doubles.)

      • Chief Family Officer says:

        Wow, seriously? You’re so lucky. None of the Ralphs that I’ve been to still double. I wonder what’s up with that!

    4. Cathryn says:

      We’ve definitely been shopping at Von’s over Ralph’s since their coupon policy changed. Their Just For U program has been suiting us, but I would have to say that my coupon usage has decreased. The coupons just haven’t matched up with the purchases I’ve been making, while the Just for U program has. We’ll have to see how things play out now Von’s has changed their policy too, my heart did sink when I saw the announcement….

      • Chief Family Officer says:

        Let’s just hope just for U doesn’t change much after the new coupon policy goes into effect!

    5. vodreaux says:

      Let call Customer Service, 1-877-723-3929, and compliment them for screwing consumers from saving money. Tell them we want to pay higher prices. We want to ensure their executives and store managers bigger bonuses. We appreciate Vons/Pavilions employees for treating coupon user like trash. Also, we should send all our more affluent friends and family to Vons/Pavilions so they can abandon the middle and working classes.

    6. scrapper al says:

      For me, it wasn’t the lack of double coupons that turned me off of Ralphs, it was the change to the discounted gas instead of a quarterly “check.” Gas prices are cheaper at a warehouse store than the 10 or 20 cents discount per gallon I can get with Ralphs. Sprouts, Stater Bros, and Fresh & Easy are my go-to stores now, in that order.

      • Chief Family Officer says:

        Funny, I never really considered the Rewards check except as an incentive to get me to buy things at Ralphs instead of Vons when they were the same price (especially gift cards, since it was like getting an extra 1% discount – 4% during special promos). I wish there was a Sprouts nearby – I hear such good things about it!

        • scrapper al says:

          To clarify, the Rewards check wasn’t a big incentive to shop at Ralphs, more like the last incentive I had to shop there so when they took it away, I stopped shopping there. Now I’m there only if they have an incredible sale on something I want. I agree that the gift card promos were an great deal!

          • Chief Family Officer says:

            Oh, I miss those gift card deals – I get 5% back from Amex, so it was like getting 9% off gift cards!