questionsdo coupons cause unemployment?


If they do there are a lot of people ticked off at me over the years.


It's not coupons, it's the ability to shop instantly virtually anywhere in the world instead of being limited to just your driving radius or for the truly remote, the Sears catalog. Globalization of retail shopping has resulted in resellers having to trim their profit margins to the point where they are so thin that the only way to remain profitable is by volume. Plus online stores don't have the added costs of maintaining expensive retail space and staffing them with employees.

The only way stores like Best Buy will survive is to:

1) Match online prices while customers are in the store. Customers today will go to a store, look at a TV, see a price, then whip out their phone and see they it for $200 less online. The stores will need to act like car dealerships where if they think you're interested, will tackle you and make an offer.

2) Specialize in items that people need immediately and don't want to wait a few days or weeks to be delivered, like cables and replacement parts.


They're not going out of business because of coupons, they're going out of business because a) they can't compete with the internet and b) they're using 20th century business models in a 21st century world.


While coupons might not be making as big of an impact on online items, the same isn't true for local-only items like grocery stores and fast food. In the past 2 years one large chain (Albertsons) and several smaller stores in my area have all closed down. These were the same stores that would accept all competitor coupons and sales and even have "double coupon" days. I would see people walking out with a shopping car full of stuff for only $10. (It would seriously suck to get stuck behind this person in the checkout line.)

While the store doesn't take the full brunt of the loss (the mfg takes a hit too) I'm sure that it doesn't help your bottom line when the industry average is a 1-2% profit margin.


I doubt it, I work in a retail industry (Cigars) where our product is marked up 50% from wholesale. Wholesale is also marked up at least 50% from the factories that make it (in our case South America \ Carribean). That means at least in this industry cigars that are not price-protected (by contract) from a cigar company can easily be discounted by online retailers by 25-40%, because they only need a margin of 10-20% to make good money.

Grocery stores, and other stores have some of the same models and in the case of coupons are reimbursed. Online retailers such as Woot simply get bulk discontinued items (usually a few months before they are officially pulled) or items from manufacturers that don't price-protect items.

Also about Best Buy - despite there insistence that Amazon and others require Sales Tax (because Best Buy does, as they have physical stores in each state) I don't think that will save them either. Customers will choose Amazon for convenience, not just 5% savings.


@elforman: Other things that B&M stores can offer are a great return policy, delivery and an installation team. I buy most of my dog food on line. I'd prefer to support local business, but after tax vs shipping it is $10 a bag cheaper online (saving me $15 a month), and is delivered to my doorstep. If my local store matched the price or delivered I might switch back to them, but between the straight out cash savings, plus the saving in time, gas and wear on my car to go and get it, most of the time I find myself buying it online. I think that if most electronics came with installation, or a really cheap installation add-on, it would greatly increase the number of people who'd buy them locally. Also B&M stores could offer free classes with purchase of things like tools and electronics. The B&M stores need to think about FTF services they could offer to make local buying more attractive.


Doubtful. Companies know what their margins are, and honestly most sales or discounts are still above margin. While there are some products which have low profit margins (usually electronics where the competition is high) there is still some built in profit even w/ those discounts and honestly that is what addons are for...bring you in for the $100 DVD player, and get you for another $30 in movies. The margin on those movies are huge, so it's a wash.

I know even with people who work at a retail store and get a discount, the discount they get still gives the company some margin of profit, and heck if you're working there and buying stuff, you're literally paying that company to work there, which is always a win-win.


A coupon is simply a form of a pricing gimmick. Just like a sales, clearance bins, etc. I will say that some retailers don't properly manage their coupons/coupon system which allow for people to take advantage. Consumers shouldn't feel bad for legally taking advantage of coupons. Stores and websites should better manage them or, better yet, not deal in those types of pricing gimmicks.


If consumers are anything like me, the extra $50 I saved (from your example) is just spent on something else. A lot of bargain shoppers don't save money, they just get more stuff for the amount of money they are willing to spend.


As I think about it more, coupons seem to only be a very small part of the larger problem that is reduced barriers to entry provided by the Internet.

Previously, distance was a very large barrier preventing a small company from selling nationally. Now companies can gain instant international marketing, place orders 24/7, and ship with minimal human interaction or investment. B&M stores are used primarily to test out equipment. The purchase happens online from the lowest bidder. We reward primarily price so long as service is adequate.

The real question is does the increase in jobs related to this Internet model exceed the decrease in jobs from the shutdown or layoff of B&M businesses.

@psumek: Just because a product is above margin doesn't mean a company is making any money. They still have to cover all the overhead associated with the building, utilities, wages, benefits, security, etc that are not directly related to the cost of a product.


Might actually create a few jobs to process the coupons and pay the stores the percentage they get. Where I lived in New England, coupons were doubled. They are not where I live now, and also they are not dated so far out as they used to be. Unless the coupon is really valuable, I just don't bother any longer.


@klozitshoper: Coupon and rebate processing centers are a big employer here. Unfortunately, it's a dead end minimum wage job, but it's a job and that's more than a lot of people have.


Coupons create jobs. Someone is paid to design the coupon, the printer is paid to print it, someone sells the ink and paper, someone is paid to stuff the coupons in newspapers, etc.


If you're talking about the coupons in the sunday paper, they're probably keeping most print-media alive. THE ONLY reason I subscribe to the Sacramento Bee is because of the coupons on Sunday. I actually have 4 subscriptions JUST for the coupons. It's been ages since I actually read the paper (something I used to love doing). I know of dozens of other people who do the same thing. You're welcome, newspaper workers.


Here's an article on 2011 Coupon Trends: Link


I haven't worked in Grocery in years, but I guarantee you that this Extreme Couponing garbage is certainly playing havoc with food prices, if not necessarily causing significant problems in the job market. Some people are under the impression that if you walk out of a grocery store with $150 worth of items, and a $7 credit to your wallet because of coupons, that nobody is getting harmed, but that's naive. Prices on other items fluctuate more wildly to account for some people who don't want to pay for 25 boxes of cereal.

I don't but a lot of items that tend to be couponed myself, as I tend to buy fresh food and a few staples. I certainly don't disagree with using them to your benefit, but abusing the system isn't helping anything. It's unfortunately not as easy as simply changing the store policy, @wnyx585am; Many consumers will complain regardless of posted policy, and take their business to a store without the scruples to prevent abuse, punishing the store that did the right thing.