Who were the winners and losers this year?
I decided to do some reflecting on posts and deals I'd written about in the last year. Some stores and companies shined, while others failed to deliver or just plain annoyed. Of course these are based on my own personal experience and the stores in my region (Puget Sound, Washington). Your opinions may well differ.
Let's get the bad news out of the way first.
Kmart. Kmart started cutting back on their "double coupon" promotions, and particularly in my area (State of Washington). I actually contacted them about this and they told me Washington shoppers didn't make enough of the sales – really?! Wanna give us another try? Areas that continued receiving the promotions noticed a reduction in how many items could be doubled and towards the end of 2009, most areas noticed less promotions altogether. And some occurred entirely unannounced. Boo.
KFC. KFC had one of the WORST promotions this year with their free grilled chicken coupons. Remember these? They were announced on Oprah's show and people began printing the puppies off and overloading local franchises where stores were overwhelmed and out of stock. Mobs of angry customers formed impromptu sit ins in protest. What was intended as a positive, turned into a huge negative, and fast.
Safeway. While Safeway had a couple notable promotions throughout the year, they top the list as one of my least favorite local grocery stores to shop at. At the start of 2009, their in-ad coupons required a minimum of $10 additional purchase, but this was upped recently to a $20 minimum purchase. What's worse, most of these coupons offer no substantial savings in the first place. You might recall I dedicated an entire post to venting my frustration over these so called "Super Coupons."
Garlic Jims. I hate to do this because I love their pizza and we continue to order from them about once a month. Several months ago, they'd advertised that they'd accept competitor coupons so I called my local store. Not only did they claim to know nothing about it, they made no attempt to learn more or even head to their own website. What's worse, a rep contacted me apologizing and offering to send a free pizza for my hassle. But guess what? That never arrived either. Get your act together guys.
National Frozen Food Month. What a complete joke. Many of the prices splashed across store ads were really not that much better (if at all) from regular retail. But unaware consumers might well have taken the bait. Better frozen food prices were interestingly found in summer. Another instance where advertised price does not equate stock up price.
Amazon. This is the first year I'd paid any attention to Amazon, and all I have to say is WOW. They do an amazing job of slashing prices on quality items, offer cheap & free shipping, and their shipping/return policy is excellent. They consistently outpriced their competition throughout the holiday shopping season.
Facebook. Companies realize the power of Facebook advertising, and are willing to reward folks for signing up as fans. Some of the best offers and coupons came on Facebook this year. I imagine this trend will persist throughout 2010 as the next generation of couponers is being targeted.
Kraft. Starting in May, Kraft rocked the coupon scene with many hot printable and insert coupons. Stores obliged with sales, and the kicker was when Kraft offered a $20 rebate late summer. I imagine most of my readers still have Kraft cheese, BBQ sauce or mayo hanging around as a result of Kraft's promotions.
Fred Meyer. One of my very favorite places to shop, Fred Meyer offers wonderful in-store coupons and sales on basic pantry staples and nutritious selections. They also surprised me come holiday season by offering the best deals to pair with the Playskool printable coupons.
Albertsons.Thanks to Albertsons, I was able to stock my pantry and let my Costco membership expire. They especially made me smile when they offered double coupons along with hot Catalina promotions. While we mourned the loss of the competitor coupons in April, Albertsons, we understand you were losing profits. We're just glad you kept your doors open and gave us incredible deals all year long.
Rite Aid. I really thought Rite Aid was about to fizzle early on in 2009, but instead they made an awesome rally with rebates, coupons, and sales. They pepper their ads with illustrations how to use coupons with their sales and rebates. And who can forget the onslaught of $5-off-$25 printables? AdPerks brought high value coupons and Rite Aid ran not one, but two "gift of savings" programs this year. They have one of the best coupon policies and took the time to make their policy public (thanks to a lil' help from Deal Seeking Mom). Rite Aid, thumbs up. WAY up.
Payless Shoes. Probably one of my "top 10" coupons of 2009 was the Payless 50% off EVERYTHING coupon of a couple months ago. You might recall I nearly teared up at checkout. They launched a rather gutsy coupon, AND their stores were prepared and followed through. That is how it's done – KFC pay attention.
THE JURY IS OUT
Old Navy. Old Navy ran heavy online coupon promotions all year – and some of them were particularly great. However, I have a couple bones to pick. 1) There were only a small handful of the super high value coupons each time and they involved staying up at odd hours of the night, constantly refreshing your computer, and scouring chat rooms for assistance. 2) Some of the clothes I bought at Old Navy with these coupons literally fell apart. The quality was so cheap on some of the shirts, I wonder if they were worth the $2 I paid for them plus the $2 in gas I used to retrieve them from the store. That being said, I did acquire a few pieces I still enjoy and use and undoubtedly Old Navy ran a smart marketing campaign that helped their business at a time when not many people were hitting the stores. (And incidentally, if you follow my blog at any length, you probably enjoyed snagging equally good if not better deals from online retailers – without having to hunt for coupons by clicking on a ridiculously fast bird that flies across your computer screen.)
Walgreens. I miss their Easy Saver Rebate program and prefer it to their overly complicated Register Reward system. While Register Rewards enable customers to acquire more "freebies," they also involve more transactions, more trips, more thought, and more fuss. And, they tend to go haywire easily. Walgreens partially redeemed themselves by reinstituting their monthly coupon book. As for me? While I'm still a regular Walgreens-goer, I find myself inclined to go there less since the death of the Easy Saver Rebate. RIP.
Agree? Disagree? Care to throw some other companies/stores/promotions into the ring? Be my guest!
Photo credit Kostya Kisleyko