Why Canadians Don’t Redeem Coupons

According to the Coupon Industry Association of Canada*, in 2006, Canadians redeemed 100 million of 3.6 billion coupons available.

Canadian consumers that did redeem coupons saved over $134 million dollars.

This sounds like a lot of coupons redeemed, but when you calculate the amount of unredeemed coupons it is astounding.

With an average face value of $2.02, the amount of unredeemed coupons is approximately $7 billion dollars.

Some reasons why Canadians do not redeem coupons?

Coupons are not for all consumers. There are several reasons why consumers do not use them.

Cutting them from magazines or newspapers, printing them from various websites like, Grocery Alerts , or sorting them from the mail is time-consuming. It takes time and effort to clip coupons and organize them. Having to carry them to the store is too much of a hassle for many shoppers, whether they save a few dollars or not. Most consumers could not be bothered.

Another possible reason why some Canadians might not redeem coupons is that they might spend more money. A coupon’s purpose is to entice shoppers to try a new product. Some consumers are brand loyal and do not wish to switch brands to save some money. The discipline required to not spend additional money may be lacking from some shoppers.

Coupons are typically for name brand products for items such as Tide and Sunlight. If a family on a budget and needs to choose between Tide when using a coupon and the store’s private label brand, the final price could show that the private label brand is cheaper even if the coupon is redeemed. Therefore, using a coupon would not be beneficial

When I was a teenager and went grocery shopping with my mother, I always saw the people that redeemed coupons and I perceived them as being “cheap.” The possible embarrassment or being labeled as “poor” or “cheap” is why some people don’t use coupons. The stigma attaching to using coupons probably still remains, especially at long lines at the grocery store when someone is trying to redeem double coupons.

Some Canadians still redeem coupons

However, the recent recession has changed the general public’s mind when it comes to redeeming coupons. In tough economic conditions, families are forced to stretch their budgets further. This includes redeeming coupons on everything from oil changes to clothing stores to laundry detergent.

Thanks to the Internet, several grocery stores (Real Canadian Superstore, Save-on-Foods, Safeway Canada) have added coupons to their websites and new websites have propped up to aid in gathering more coupons.

The fact that more and more merchants are offering coupons shows the demand for them.

Final Thoughts

Personally, I carry a grocery coupon binder (just a simple tupperware container), that organizes all my coupons into different categories for easy redemption.

I have had terrible experiences at stores explaining that they do not accept photocopied coupons and when you inform the cashier that they came from a retailer’s website or from our website, it does not make a difference. Speaking with the manager at the local Save-On-Foods if the coupon came from the retailer and that it has a valid bar code, a valid expiration date, and a valid Canadian redemption address they typically redeem the coupon. This is something to look out for if a cashier or merchant ever refuses to take your coupon. Just explain that the printed coupon has everything they need to redeem.

It is not a lot of money saved typically, but I do find the coupons add up when you combine them when an item is on sale.

Here is a recent transaction.

This copy of the receipt shows that I saved 75 cents off the Glad Wrap. This does not sound like much money, however, since the item was on sale at $2.99 using the coupon saved me an additional 25% off the sale price.

How do you tend to use coupons? Do you find them more hassle then the savings?

* –

profile_smallAuthor’s Bio: The author is Steven Zussino, Founder of Grocery Alerts Canada (http://www.groceryalerts.ca/) – Home of grocery deals and money saving coupons. He enjoys personal finance and saving money in beautiful Victoria, BC.

I've Completed My Million Dollar Journey. Let Me Guide You Through Yours!

Sign up below to get a copy of our free eBook: Can I Retire Yet?

Posted in

Guest Blogger

This is a guest post. You can read more about the author in the biography above.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
10 years ago

The way pretty much all businesses are cut throat to the max now days, it’s not very likely any of them are “giving” anything away for free. If they’re offering so much for free or reduced with coupon usage that tells me their profit margin on those items are considerably higher than they should be to start with. Watching shows like “Extreme Couponing” it’s cool to see someone get $800 worth of groceries for one cent, or $1400 worth for $44, then a rational person should think about how is that possible? Workers wages being cut left and right, people being laid off left and right, and these manufacturers or grocery stores are giving away thousands of dollars because someone cut a little piece of paper out of a newspaper or something? There is no such thing as a free lunch and you can be sure the consumer is paying for the coupon clippers windfalls one way or another.

11 years ago

I had a manufactuers coupon cut out from a box for a 2L of coke and it makes me sick having to argue with cashiers when they say oh we don’t take those!

11 years ago

Coupons are great if they are for items that you would buy anyway. But it’s easy to get sucked in and buy stuff you don’t need just because you have a coupon for it.

11 years ago

It seems that most people have focussed on coupons for grocery purchases rather than covering other goods AND services.

Some coupons give you more affinity points (think Shoppers Drug Mart, Airmiles, Aeroplan)…

Some coupons are for services (1 hour free for your first housekeeping service, free oil change with $250 of auto maintenance)

Some coupons are for anything of a certain value (Sears, Best Buy often have coupons which are equivalent to 10% off based on certain levels of purchases going up to $100 off purchases totalling greater than $1,000).

I would not be surprised that the young crowd is less apt to use “low value” coupons because of the time, effort and perception. Those who are retired and on fixed incomes would probably be high users of coupons.

Personally, I have used coupons for a long time and never worried about perception (except, as mentioned, when ‘dating’ !). But, I also factor in whether it is cheaper to use a different but comparable product/service even without the use of a coupon.

Finally, one should also factor in not just the cost of the savings but convert that into how much more money you would have to earn BEFORE taxes to realise the same benefit.

11 years ago

We actually have “made” money by using coupons. The items were on sale for less than the value of the coupon! Once we got Shirriff brand Lemon Pie filling free and 0.01 back and another time there was a promotion with Oatmeal Crisp or similar cereal that had a 2.50 off coupon and it was on sale for 1.99- we just kept buying boxes and cutting the coupon off the box and made 0.50 each time! Not really that exciting but just illustrates the point.

Steve Zussino
11 years ago

Wow, Kathryn,

Those are great coupons. On our site I try to post not only grocery coupons but coupons I find that are useful for clothes shopping or other tremendous savings.

Vitamins is a great example to use coupons (brand name or private label still allows you to save money).


11 years ago

I’ve been re-thinking my answer to this one. I realized that it’s true that I almost never use coupons for grocery items because there are rarely coupons for ‘staple’ foods. However in the last week, I used a coupon for a haircut (20% off), Gap (20%), Old Navy (30% off), vitamins (50% off) and a buy one get one free entree! It turns out I do use coupons … generally just not grocery store coupons.

11 years ago

When I was first convincing my husband of the value of using coupons, I asked him if he would take a dollar out of his wallet and throw it in the trash. An obvious “no”, but that is exactly what he would do if I had a dollar coupon for something we already used and he did not use the coupon. From there he has become even more fanatical than I, matching sales to coupons, doubling options, and internet coupon sites. We save quite a bit and our bank account reflects it.

11 years ago

First way you can save money is to not shop at Save on Foods… that place is a rip-off. Try Real Canadian Superstore.
We use the odd coupon, but most of the things we buy don’t typically have coupons because they aren’t higher-priced name brand items which are horribly overpriced in order to offer you the “juicy” discount.
Buyer beware!

11 years ago

Coupons are friggin annoying. If you have a piece of paper we’ll give you 10% off. WTF! seriously just find the place with the lowest average prices and shop there. For me I believe that place is the Superstore, I get my $250 of groceries, I get a $25 gift card back and $2.50 of PC points. Also like previous posters have said, its cheaper to make from scratch than to buy prepared foods (even with coupons) and often the generics are cheaper than brand names with coupons. So in summary, coupons are only good for things you would have bought otherwise. The reason companies do anything, and hence why they make coupons, is because it makes them more money in the long run. More money for the companies means less for you (unless you’re a shareholder).