Posthaste: Canadians want to use grocery store coupons, but they're often too restrictive (2023)

68% of Canadians would use coupons more often if they were available more: survey

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Noella Ovid

Publishing date:

Mar 25, 2022March 25, 20224 minute read

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Some Canadians are looking to grocery store coupons to save money on the rising costs of food, but many say they aren’t easily accessible, according to a new report from the Agri-Food Lab at Dalhousie University and Angus Reid.

More Canadians are using coupons than they were six months ago, the survey found. Of the 45 per cent of people who hadn’t used them before, 15 per cent now are. Those who were already clipping coupons to save money on their grocery bills are also using them more often: 11 per cent said they’ve upped their usage.

The practice is more common among younger consumers. Those under 35 are more than twice as likely to have increased coupon-use compared to those 55 and up, the report said.

Income levels seem to play a role as well, though not by a whole lot. Approximately 18 per cent of those earning less than $50,000 a year said they use coupons more often. That’s compared to 14 per cent of people who take home higher paycheques.

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Overall, a majority (68 per cent) of Canadians said they would make use of grocery store coupons more often if more were available. But almost half (49 per cent) said it’s too difficult to use them because of restrictions. Those include not being allowed to use coupons on already discounted items, or being barred from using multiple coupons for one product.

“Canadians either feel using coupons has too many restrictions in Canada, or that savings are not that interesting for them,” said Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab, in a press release. “The couponing culture in Canada is undeveloped which doesn’t give consumers more opportunities to save when food prices are rising.”

Indeed, 45 per cent of consumers said savings from most coupons aren’t worth the effort. Many think they are too inconvenient, and 38 per cent said they don’t bother using them because they add too much time at the checkout counter.

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Beyond coupons, researchers asked Canadians how they felt about dynamic or surge pricing — when prices move according to consumer demand — and discovered it was unpopular or not-well known among respondents. Only 35 per cent said they liked the idea.

Meanwhile, discounts for buying in bulk also raised concerns for consumers. A majority (54 per cent) said they think volume discounts are unfair to smaller households or single people, and nearly half (47 per cent) said it’s a recipe for added food waste.

“Canadians appear to have a love-hate relationship with volume discounts,” said Janet Music, research assistant at the lab, in the press release. “The practice does raise the issue of socio-economic equality and fairness for consumers.”

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Charlebois told the Financial Post’s Larysa Harapyn recently that food affordability is going to become a real issue for a growing number of families in Canada.

He predicted that prices are going to increase by seven or eight per cent, in part because the Ukraine-Russia conflict has significantly increased fertilizer costs and disrupted grain exports.

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Posthaste: Canadians want to use grocery store coupons, but they're often too restrictive (4)

CANADA DEBT WARNING: Magna International Inc. founder Frank Stronach said Canada is “fairly close” to a debt crisis. Stronach is calling for Canadians to lobby for legislation that would prevent governments from spending more revenue than they can collect in taxes. “Every citizen can feel deep down in their bones that the country’s growing mountain of debt is a problem,” he wrote. Read on for more details. Photo by Postmedia

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Posthaste: Canadians want to use grocery store coupons, but they're often too restrictive (5)
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Today’s Posthaste was written by Noella Ovid, with additional reporting from The Canadian Press, Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg.

Have a story idea, pitch, embargoed report, or a suggestion for this newsletter? Email us atposthaste@postmedia.com, or hit reply to send us a note.

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