NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Consumers flock towards coupons when shopping even when the economy is performing well. According to a new survey from RetailMeNot, 96% of respondents rely on coupons.
While almost all consumers use coupons, some 15% of respondents used mostly mobile coupons in 2014, which have become mainstream with the rise of smartphones, compared to 10% in 2013 and 4% in 2010.
Not surprisingly, printed coupon use fell dramatically in recent years, with 58% of consumers using printed coupons in 2014, compared to 73% in 2010.
"September is the official start of National Coupon Month,” says Tare Bodge, senior lifestyle editor for The Real Deal by RetailMeNot. “It's a reminder that we are a frugal nation that likes to save money when we shop."
The 2008 recession reinforced the importance of cost-conscious spending habits, which revolve around coupons, the basic foundation of saving money.
Even if you didn’t lose your job during the recession, chances are someone close to you suffered from unemployment. With no income or a fear of having no income down the road caused consumers to refocus their efforts on saving money in all areas of their budget.
Even as the economy improves and the unemployment rate slowly moves lower, those frugal habits adopted when economic conditions were at their worst are sticking even today.
“Consumers are beginning to spend again and using coupons allows them to feel as though they’re being a responsible shopper while stretching available dollars,” says financial expert Gail Cunningham with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
The grief stemming from the recession reminds consumers that economic hardship can strike at any moment. Maintaining frugal habits goes a long way in making sure the next recession isn’t as painful as the last one.
Since coupons are so accessible, the days of thumbing through the newspaper to clip coupons still exist, but aren’t as important. One of the most impactful ways to find coupons is to conduct a quick Internet search for a coupon related to the item you’re trying to buy.
The key with couponing is to ensure coupons aren’t guiding your spending. If you’re in the market for a new pair of sneakers, take some time to seek out a coupon for them. If you weren’t looking for sneakers, but suddenly come across a coupon for sneakers and this prompts you to buy them, you’re defeating the purpose of a coupon.
As the holiday shopping season approaches, set aside money each month for holiday gifts to avoid relying on credit cards. Planning ahead can result in additional savings. The survey said 33% of respondents had already begun shopping for the holiday season.
- Written by Scott Gamm for MainStreet. Gamm is author of MORE MONEY, PLEASE.