Some coupon clippers are putting the scissors down amid coronavirus pandemic. Because of COVID-19, a few stores have stopped accepting paper coupons.
Some coupon clippers are voluntarily putting the scissors down during the coronavirus pandemic.
Even though a few stores have stopped taking printed coupons, many still accept them.
But Lori Soard, 50, of Henryville, Indiana, says she won’t use paper coupons until the pandemic is over. An avid couponer, Soard runs the Crabby Housewife blog where she shares money-saving tips and frugal recipes. She says she's going to put the health of fellow shoppers and store workers over pinching pennies.
“Normally, I'm all for people using coupons, getting great deals and stocking up,” she told USA TODAY. “Consider the people behind you on line. It's a little inconsiderate right now.”
Stores also are scaling back on promotions with some no longer printing weekly circulars and having fewer sales.
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Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen said his company continues to run promotions including a physical ad and digital offers, but they are making changes to adapt to the new realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are not doing promotions that traditionally would've been stock-up promotions,” McMullen said during an April 16 investor meeting. But with so many people losing jobs and worried about their budgets, "we think it's important for our customers to continue to have promotions because there's a lot of fear in the economy.”
BJ’s Wholesale Club, which has 218 locations, says it suspended paper coupons March 30 to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The coupons in the chain’s monthly Savings Book are now clipless and automatically applied at checkout. Members can also clip digital manufacturer coupons on the store’s mobile app and website.
Soard says that, like many, she has changed the way she shops and is using curbside pickup more often. That doesn't mean she is giving up on scrimping whenever she can, but she's focusing more on digital coupons and mobile apps.
Every little bit helps, as higher food prices as well as fees and tips for grocery delivery services shoppers eat into shopping budgets.
"Sometimes you just can't (save) and you just have to accept that your safety is more important than saving a couple dollars,” Soard said.Contactless savings during a pandemic
Many Sunday newspapers continue to have coupon inserts, but for shoppers looking to avoid contact, here are some contactless ways to save.
Digital coupons: Most major grocery store chains offer digital coupons on mobile apps or on their websites. The coupons normally need to be digitally "clipped" before shopping, and you'll need to enter a phone number or scan a loyalty program or an app in store when checking out.
Target Circle: The Target app, available for Apple and Android, has hundreds of Circle offers, formerly known as Cartwheel offers, ranging from 5% to 50% off in categories such as groceries, clothes, furniture, baby products, health, seasonal and more. With the free program, shoppers will earn 1% on every purchase to redeem on a future Target trip and personalized offers like a birthday discount of 5%. However, shoppers with a Target RedCard aren’t eligible to earn 1% when they pay with the store-branded card but will continue to get 5% off purchases and can take advantage of the other Target Circle perks. Learn more about the rewards program here.
Ibotta: The cashback app offers savings on groceries, household items, online shopping and more. Before you shop, select offers by clicking the plus sign and you'll take a photo of your receipt through the app. For some stores, you can link your online account to Ibotta to earn money back on purchases. Once you earn $20 in cash back through the app, you can transfer money to a PayPal or Venmo account or choose a gift card.
Checkout 51: New weekly deals begin every Thursday. Star items you may buy; snap a photo of your receipt showing you bought the item, then select items on your receipt and click "claim it" to receive credit for offers. Once your account balance reaches $20, you can request the company mail you a check.
Fetch Rewards: Download the app at www.fetchrewards.com or through your app store. Buy certain brands and specific products and take photos of your receipts to earn points that can be cashed in for select gift cards.
Saving together: If you're doing an order for grocery deliveries or an online order, consider ordering with a neighbor to lower costs or to help meet the free shipping threshold.
Earn cash back: It's possible to earn a percentage of your purchase back on websites including RetailMeNot.com, Rakuten.com (formerly Ebates.com), TopCashback.com or apps such as Ibotta and Shopkick. There are exclusions and for some of the programs, the cash-back offer is only for certain categories. You can check your banking app or digital wallet apps like Samsung Pay for possible cash-back offers as well. Some exclusions apply.
Rewards programs: Just about every major retailer and restaurant has a reward program. Sign up for these programs to earn money off purchases, get birthday freebies and sign-up bonuses. Some store rewards programs also save copies of your receipts.
Use coupon codes and browser extensions: When shopping online always look for promo codes for discounts including free shipping. Browser extensions like Honey can also apply discounts.
Price history: With item shortages, prices have been changing in recent weeks. Check a product's price history on Amazon using camelcamelcamel, which has a Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome browser extension called the Camelizer. Or go to www.camelcamelcamel.com.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko
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