Kroger Bags Extreme Couponing With New Policies

Stores Lose Money With New Consumer Fad

A chain of grocery stores is cutting back on a popular consumer cost-saving fad, curbing coupon use to keep its profit margin.

Extreme couponing -- using multiple coupons to dramatically reduce the total of a grocery bill -- is causing some retailers to lose money while customers bag bargains.

Shopper Nancy Aiken has the fad down to a science, 6News' Stacia Matthews reported.

"I just don't ever pick stuff just random. It's things I know I'm going to buy. It's 40 to 50 cents off, too. If it's 25 (cents), no," Aiken said.

Because of the huge savings many extreme couponers walk away with, Kroger stores are instituting a new coupon policy.

John Elliot works at Kroger and said the policy changes are necessary.

"We've actually had people print (coupons). They go to a copy machine and print an entire stack and expect to be able to use 50 copies of the same electronic coupon for the same item, which equates to us handing them back money and they haven't paid for the product. It's really not reasonable or fair," Elliot said.

According to Kroger’s new policy, only five paper coupons can be used for the same product, and only two Internet coupons can be used in one day. Also, coupons that are blurry or ones that won’t scan will not be accepted.

"We're not discouraging coupons. We're really trying to discourage abuse," Elliot said.

Dan McQuiston, marketing and management chair at Butler University, said many grocers operate on a thin margin and can’t afford to give away products.

"It wouldn't surprise me to see a lot more stores begin doing this," McQuiston said. "When someone buys $200 worth of products, uses coupons and pays $25, $30 or nothing for them, obviously the store doesn't make any money, and they have to recoup that in some other way."

McQuiston said that when stores lose money from extreme couponing, other consumers will be forced to pay more in the long run.

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