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Couponing around the world versus here

May 2, 2019

The couponing phenomenon as we know it in the U.S. is largely an American phenomenon. While other countries certainly offer coupons, several readers have written to report that they aren’t able to reach the same kinds of savings levels as we’re able to stateside.

DEAR JILL, for all the people who write and complain about coupons: Have you ever tried to use coupons in another country? We were stationed in England for several years as my husband is in the military, and couponing across the pond is nothing like it is in the U.S.

For starters, there simply aren’t as many coupons issued by brands. Spend a month in England looking for coupons, and you will never complain about your newspaper inserts again.

Stores in England do not double coupons, ever. They will also not accept a competitor’s store coupon under any circumstances.

There is also a social stigma against coupons. I lost count of how many times I received shameful looks using even just a few coupons. It is considered a sign of poverty.

In England, it is very rare to get a high-value coupon that will make a significant dent in the price of what you wish to buy. The best I was able to do is to use a loyalty program that issued vouchers for money off based on previous purchases.

Give me couponing in the U.S. any day of the week, and coupons in my weekly paper, please. — KIRA K.

DEAR JILL, my sister-in-law lives in Canada, and as much as she tries to save with coupons like we do where we live in Florida, coupons just aren’t

the same in Canada at all. It seems that some stores still do not accept printable coupons at all. The big brands also do not seem to create as many coupons for the Canadian market. However, the cashback apps are popular there, and she uses those quite a bit. I thought it was eye-opening how different things are for our neighbors to the north. — NED I.

DEAR JILL, we lived on Andros Island in the Bahamas for a time as my spouse was stationed there. It was truly a slice of paradise. However, groceries were expensive as everything must be flown or boated in. The Bahamas really has no couponing culture to speak of. It’s nothing like the U.S. There is also very little in the way of attractive sale prices. You pretty much must pay the price that things are. I would do my best to make our dollars stretch as much as possible. As much as I miss the beauty and relaxed lifestyle there, the cost of food is so much less in the mainland U.S., and I am happy to be shopping with coupons regularly again. — LINA P.

The U.S. is indeed the land of opportunity when it comes to coupon shopping. In many areas of the country, you’ll find multiple grocery stores, supermarkets and drugstores — often on the same street — all of which are competing for your business. This forces prices to stay competitive, and stores will fight for shoppers’ dollars by offering low sale prices and attractive promotions.

We also have a great deal of competition in the consumer packaged goods market. Consider how many brands and varieties we have to choose from. On any given week, we may have current coupon promotions for four (or more) different brands of toothpaste, laundry detergent, cereal and cheese.

We’re able to compare both sale prices on similar items in the same product category, as well as evaluating current coupon discounts for all of them. Then, we can select the products that save us the most money and apply our highest-value coupons to them — ultimately reducing our grocery bill as much as possible. Plus, we’re able to do this week after week. The sale prices keep coming, as do the coupons!

Because of these factors, the U.S. has a unique couponing culture that really has no comparison elsewhere.

© CTW Features Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.


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