US shoppers look to save at Christmas with coupons

US shoppers will use coupons and exclusive online sales to save money during the pricey holiday season, with a third of coupon users now sourcing coupons from the internet or email, according to new research from Mintel.

Reporting ahead of Black Friday (26 November 2010), the day after Thanksgiving and the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season, Mintel reports consumers will also be combing their favourite stores for the best bargains.

According to Mintel, 32% of shoppers now source coupons from the internet or email account, compared to 19% five years ago.
Seventy one per cent of respondents say their coupons come from leaflets inserted in newspapers, while 55% use coupons found in or on packages they’ve purchased.

“Consumers report they’re budgeting less than they did a year ago in regards to food, transportation and clothing, but coupon usage is as popular as ever,” said Fiona O’Donnell, senior analyst at Mintel. “While the percentages of coupon users who cite traditional sources like newspapers have held relatively steady over the past five years, the incidence of obtaining coupons from the internet and email has risen sharply.”

While 59% of those surveyed say they usually use coupons, that’s not the only way consumers save money. An equal percentage say they seek out sale products advertised in store flyers and 57% watch for sales via newspaper ads. A meager 6% say they listen for sales on the radio.

“The self-discipline required for a strict monthly or weekly budget can be difficult for some consumers to maintain for an extended period of time,” said O’Donnell. “Opportunistic savings like coupon clipping and sales ads take relatively less effort.”

But it’s not all penny-pinching and bargain hunting: many consumers treat themselves with any extra money they save. Once all bills are paid and essentials purchased, 46% of those surveyed say they use their extra money to dine out, 35% say they pay off debt and 30% say they spend any excess cash on entertainment like concerts, movies or music.