Extreme Couponing Could Take a Bite out of Profits: The Ticker

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By Kirsten Salyer

U.S. consumers are turning couponing into the latest extreme sport. That could present a challenge for retailers and consumer-goods companies trying to turn a profit in a weak economy.

Bloomberg News reported today that U.S. consumers redeemed 1.75 billion coupons for savings of $2 billion in the first half of this year, according to NCH Marketing Services. The rise in coupon savings, up 18 percent from the same period in 2009, suggests consumers are re-energizing their efforts to cut costs.

The trend is concentrated in suburbs and in major cities such as Houston, Chicago and Los Angeles, which have the country's highest couponing activity per household, according to website ShopAtHome.com. Cash-conscious consumers can look to deal-based websites and blogs, like Coupons.com, CouponMom.com and theKrazyCouponLady.com, which compile databases of coupons and offer cost-saving tips. Sites like Groupon and LivingSocial are making it easier to find and compare deals, and manufacturers and stores are reacting to a slow economy by offering more discounts.

TLC’s reality show “Extreme Couponing,” which starts its second season tonight, celebrates the bargain-hunting drive by following shoppers as they navigate stores with cart caravans and coupon clippings to triumphantly cross the register finish line and watch hundreds of dollars disappear from their bills. What’s striking is that for the shoppers, it’s not always all about the money. A man vs. store mentality shows through as consumers stockpile years’ worth of goods, often just to prove they can.

Retailers, watch out.

(Kirsten Salyer is the social media producer for Bloomberg View.)

-0- Sep/28/2011 19:17 GMT