Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Q&A: How is Couponing in Utah Different?

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I receive emails like this constantly and thought it'd be helpful to open it up to all of you to answer!

Q: My family will be moving to Utah in a few weeks and I'm hoping to continue using coupons when I grocery shop. I'm wondering if you can answer a few questions for me. What stores are the best to shop at? Are there any that double or triple coupons? Is there a certain day of the week I should shop? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

A. I'm going to make a blanket statement here that you should know and understand: Couponing in Utah is very different.

I'll explain. Compared to the rest of the nation, Utah has triple to quadruple the number of couponers. That's a lot of people all trying to get the same deals. Not only that, but Utahans have larger families, so people are buying in larger quantities. For those reasons we have virtually no opportunities to double or triple coupons. Occasionally, Kmart does offer double a select number of coupons, however their prices are so inflated, it doesn't usually amount to many good deals. Smith's does round low value coupons to $1 a few times a year. Those events are for a limited time and the deals fly off the shelves! During those events, our savings usually increases by about 20-30% though, so they're worth participating in.

Most areas of the nation offer paid services that will match up your grocery store sales with coupons. Thankfully, here in Utah, that service is often FREE! I use
Grocery Smarts. You can read more about how to use Grocery Smarts' service here.

As far as favorite stores, I think most would agree that overall, Smith's is the favorite store in Utah. You can
read more about Smith's savings card here. I also like Winco, Macey's, Walmart and RiteAid.

In regards to what day to shop, really I suggest any day but Wednesday. Lots of people here in Utah shop on Wednesday, but that's the one day I try and avoid! In most cases, the new sale begins Wednesday and I like to give the store the chance to get all the sale items marked and all the kinks worked out before shopping.

Don't let any of this discourage you though! You can still manage to save at least 50% at the grocery store each time you shop!

Do you have any thoughts on how couponing in Utah is different? Leave a comment- I'd love to hear your tips and suggestions!

30 comments:

brossettelewis said...

It can be frustrating for the person (me) that isn't a hard core "couponer". I don't get the paper, much less multiples. I use printable and mailed ones but notice the great coupon-ed product is cleaned out a lot of the time. There are people that ruin the fun by raiding papers for ALL the coupons, printing more than they should, and clearing out stores just for the fun of it...for "food storage" sake. Who needs 40 gillette gift packs? Some stores make it difficult (arguing that you can't use manufacture and store coupons and getting a manager) because of the abusers and policies change (like not accepting printable coupons). I still think it is worth it but just a little frustrating because not everyone plays fair.

Rachelle said...

It's even harder in a small town in Utah. Only one of each store (and a very limited selection of stores) plus lots of couponers make it really difficult. Walgreens is the most difficult unless you go right when they stock up. Smith's is usually pretty good. I have just learned that I won't be able to get all the deals others do. I am selective about what I am willing to work hard for (because it is hard work!) so I will go a few weeks without couponing. I find my budget hasn't dropped as much as others because I live in small town Utah. However, deals are still to be had. You just have to be smart about it, plan ahead, and go when the store restocks.

Allyssa said...

If you are planning to move close to Orem, Ridley's is one the stores that allow double coupons on every Tuesdays up to $1 max.

Anonymous said...

Not ever living or traveling much outside the Great State of Utah, I had no idea that this difference existed. My sister lives in Hawaii and I keep telling her to get on the couponing bandwagon, but she has yet to try it and let me know how it works where she lives.
Thanks for the post about all the couponers. I had no idea that so many people were vying for the same products. I had my eyes opened a little the other day when I asked the grocery manager at Smith's about when more Ronzoni pasta would be re-stocked. He informed me that the warehouse was out and a lady came in the first day of the sale and bought three shopping carts full of it. I sure hope she is going to donate some to the local food bank!

Statham Family Blog said...

Being from a small town (no Smith's) I usually take my ad's with an organized list of deals from each store and go to Walmart and do the price match. Just make sure your ready to show each item on the ad to the checker. On the Smith's good deals I will make a 30 mile trip to Salt Lake to take advantage of it. I know a few women in town actually will take a truck or trailer into S.L. together.
I started about 6 months ago to couponing seriously (with the help of Utah Deal Diva and a few others) has helped our family tremdously save monthly on our grocery bill.
Good Luck and welcome to Utah

Alicia said...

The good thing about Smiths is when they have a good sale, they usually run it for a couple weeks. Usually the first week is wiped out, but I can usually get the good deals the next week, because everyone has already hit the sale. I agree with the first comment, though. Sometimes it is really frustrating.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has couponed in multiple states (in the West, Midwest and East coast), I has been my experience that store employees are much nicer about taking coupons in Utah than anywhere else I have lived. Since couponing is much more common in Utah, it seems that the store employees are far more knowledgeable than in those places where they are not confronted with couponing scenarios as often.

However, Utah does not have any CVS Pharmacies, Safeways, or Dillions. Also, their Smiths sales are generally not as exciting as Kroger sales (although they belong to the same company.) On the other hand, Smiths has now implemented a store coupon program where shoppers receive a portion of their spending back - something Kroger lacks.

Really it is just a matter of trade-offs. Couponing in Utah isn't really any better or worse - it is just different.

Laura said...

I dont shop ANYWHERE on Saturday... the stores in my area are always insane with people getting their shopping done before spending all day at church on Sunday.... You'd think that would make Sunday a good day for shopping, since the majority of people are occupied elsewhere but it doesnt!! My stores are always picked clean and not restocked from Saturday...

I have pretty much stopped trying to coupon at grocery stores... Since I don't have kids and mostly eat non-processed there aren't a ton of coupons anyways... I do love Smiths though - they always have some deal or another going on.

I also play the "rite aid game", getting as many money making deals as I can and using the extra for food at times... they have had pretty good deals lately; like the free dryers ice cream, lays stacks, and other snacks or even last week for example - they had the Blue Diamond Almonds on BOGO sale plus you got $5 when you buy $15... if you got 10 cans for $17.45 and used a survey coupon for $3 off $15 ($14.45) and got the $5 UP back ($9.45) that makes each can less than a dollar each!

Lacey said...

I just moved from West Jordan to San Francisco. Obviously, food is more expensive here, that is a big difference. But as for couponing, there are a couple main differences. One, not as many people do it, so I don't have to worry about items running out. Although, the Rite Aid freebies are still gone by Monday afternoon. It only takes a couple hard core couponers to clear out a Rite Aid freebie. The cashiers aren't as jaded as Utah cashiers. Most of the cashiers I have dealt with are really nice. They area always super impressed because they've never really seen the potential of coupons.

The downsides: there aren't as many websites that help you with the store match-ups. There is a Grocery Smarts list for Northern California, but it isn't always exact to my store.

I haven't seen a single Double-Coupon promotion since I moved in December. Maybe I'm just out of the loop, but I do miss them.

No matter where you are moving to, or where you are moving from, it just takes some time to get used to that area. Couponing included.

Anonymous said...

To put it bluntly, couponing in Utah STINKS!! I have been couponing for over 10 years in various states and Utah is by far the worst for selection, attitude of salespeople, and most importantly, people clearing the shelves. Quite honestly, the only couponing I do now is for household items and a few grocery staples (cereal, crackers, etc) because we eat a plant-based, fresh diet. That way, i don't have to deal with all the hoarders cleaning everything out for the sake of "food storage" or "donating".

Sariah said...

My favorite time of the week for deal shopping is early Saturday morning. The insanity doesn't usually start until mid to late morning, and at aroun 8 or 9 there are fewer folks in there than evenings on the weekdays. Their shelves are also freshly stocked so I usually have great success getting what I want.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what brossettelewis said, there is nothing more frustrating than going to a store to pick up a good deal and you get to the shelf and it is wiped clean. I think that these crazed couponers get so caught up in the fact that they are getting somthing for free or next to nothing, that they think they need to buy everything on the shelf. They don't bother to think about anybody else but themselves! I have come to the conclusion that couponers are rude! They are rude to other customers, and they are rude to the employee's. Maybe we should have a lesson on coupon etiquette.

Anonymous said...

A note on combining coupons for those with babies in diapers, I can almost always combine coupons at Babies R Us. It depends on the cashier, but I've used five coupons on one box of diapers before. This works really well when combined with their diaper sales and rewards program. And with the high value huggies coupons that are out right now, you can get a good deal.
As far as couponing in other states goes, I'm moving to northern California in a month. Does anyone know of good couponing websites for that area?

Chelsea said...

I don't think every couponer is that crazy - yes there are some - but the majority of us just get what our families need. It might seem crazy to someone to see a person buying 10 boxes of cereal but when they have 5, 6, 7...8 kids, then it makes sense - and who are we to judge that?

My couponing tip is to ask the store which days they get deliveries. Our Smiths gets them on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday so instead of going Wednesday when the sale starts, I'll go Thursday morning when everything is freshly stocked. Do I always get the deals I want? No. But that's the chance you take, and I always go with a back up plan if my original scenarios don't work.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of the couponing experience anywhere is influenced by your attitude. Yes, you will find some rude cashiers and empty shelves but you will also find a lot of good cashiers and well stocked stores. If you go into every couponing trip thinking it will be bad, a lot of them will be. Couponing can be good or bad anywhere you go. Just enjoy the good deals that you score and remember that sales cycle so the ones you miss will come around again. Thanks UDD :)

Stephanie said...

I just wanted to add to everyone's comments about "clearing shelves." I have been couponing in Utah for almost two years now and it is rare for me to find an individual that "clears the shelf" (*although they do exist). Most of the time, there are enough people purchasing items with coupons that it doesn't take long before the stores run out of the really cheap or free items. When there is a really good sale on an item that I know my family will use I try to get to the store before it opens on the first day of the sale. Most of the other couponers are friendly and we try to help each other out. I try to celebrate the successes I have and realize that sometimes I'm not going to be able to get the great deals if I'm not there that first morning or when they restock.

I also recommend you make friends with the cashiers and managers at the stores you frequent. They're much more likely to listen to you when you have questions or suggestions.

I really do believe most couponers follow good coupon etiquette. Unfortunately, there are a small few who make it very hard for everyone else. Welcome to Utah and good luck in your couponing experience here! :)

Stephanie said...

Sorry. One more comment.

I just wanted to add to what UDD said about great stores for couponing/shopping. I definitely do most of my food shopping with coupons at Smiths. I also like to shop at Maceys and Reams when they have a good sale. I like to purchase produce at Reams in Springville and Buy Low in Provo/Orem. Buy Low has a Wed/Thurs. produce sale where I can easily get fruits and veggies super cheap for my family (like 2-4 lbs/$1). Walmart is also good for non-food items or stuff I don't have a coupon for as well as price-matching. My favorite drugstores are RiteAid and Walgreens. Although Walgreens is closer for me, I much prefer RiteAid because I get cheap/free stuff more often and I usually make money when I shop there.

I've heard great things about Target (because they let you combine store and manufacturer coupons), but they seem too far away for me and the great deals are usually gone by the time I'm able to go up there.

Also, if you've never lived near a place that does Bountiful Baskets you might want to check them out when you move here (or another produce co-op) for buying your produce.

Good luck in your move! :)

Suzie said...

Oh the shelf-clearers. I agree with what has been said earlier. I try to be as sweet as I can be to the cashiers so we can build a good name for couponers here. The thing that I can't stand is when I see couponers that act like they are entitled to get good deals. I especially hate it when I see women ripping all the peelies off boxes that they have no intention to buy. Grrr...It is easy to cheat with coupons, but in my opinion it is akin to stealing. I shop at Smiths, and the occasional Macey's or Fresh Market if they are having a great sale. I love Target. Just got some free 8 ounce toothpaste and Excedrin this morning!

Anonymous said...

The minute I saw this post I thought "I'm going to comment"...little did I know, many others feel the same way. I moved here from Arizona less than a year ago. While there were great deals at Fry's and Albertson's, Smith's is great, and like others have said, they will re-stock during the week and sales typically go more than one week. I've had good success at Smith's (I do miss my stores in Arizona where I could get such cheap produce...no need for bountiful baskets when you can choose what you like for way cheaper.....apples 33 cents a lb, cilantro and green onions 12 cents each, strawberries for 50 cents a container....sorry about the tangent...i just miss cheap produce).

What I really wanted to comment on is the shelf-clearers. They are out there. Don't think that it's just a lot of people couponing.....it's really a lot of people missing out on deals because one person comes in when the store opens and buys every freebie or moneymaker on the shelf. My sister shops at the Rite Aid in Ogden and has talked to the manager there. One sunday morning and man and wife and girl were there when he opened and cleared the shelf. The manager wanted to question their coupons but didn't. He felt bad there was nothing left for anyone else who came in that week. Another time, my sister saw two women, each with TWO shopping carts full of stuff. They cleared the shelves of all the good deals. Even if you have 12 kids, it's RUDE! Take some and leave some for the rest of us! And these women were talking about how they had already hit the store in Harrisville and cleared the shelves there. I shop at the Rite Aid in Bountiful and talked to some of the employees there after driving from Farmington to find empty shelves. The employees said people load up on the freebies and sell them at their YARD SALES!!!! Are you serious? You are going to get free advil and sell it at a yard sale? Find a more honest way to make 10 cents. I couldn't believe it. Everyone likes a good deal, but I tell you, people are really selfish here. The bad thing is, it just makes me want to clear the shelf if I ever have that chance because I know the person after me is going to. I sure miss being able to go to Walgreens and CVS on a wednesday in Arizona and never having a problem with the items I want being sold out. Good luck, and put on your running shoes and boxing gloves!!!!!!

heath said...

I'm so surprised nobody mentioned rain checks. I've requested rain checks at Smith's and Walgreens multiple times, and it really makes all the difference when the deals go fast. I've even had one or two instances where it was a deal if you bought 3 of the item, and there were only 2 left. The cashier wrote on the rain check that I had paid for 3 and that the next time I came to the store I could just pick up the 3rd one and take it with me. If the deal won't allow rain checks it should say so clearly on the sale tag.

Kellie said...

About the RiteAid in Ogden. DONT SHOP THERE! I did one time, and one time only, and wont go back, because of the shelf clearer. Must be the same one. The RiteAid in Roy is so much nicer. I will drive the 10 extra miles to go there. The shelves were well stocked, and it was clean and enjoyable. The "true" couponers (those of us who coupon to save money, not to just get a "good deal" and it's "free") all shop there, from what I have heard. I was able to get the free toothpaste deal there 2 weeks ago, and I didnt go there until Tuesday!

I am fairly new to couponing, and was astonished at the shelf clearers. It just isnt right. Taking peelies that you wont use, just isnt right. Be kind to your fellow couponers, and share the wealth!

And as for rain checks. The best idea yet! Especially if you know you are going to buy enough to "clear the shelf", special order, or get a rain check!

Alice said...

I'm not a hardcore couponer. I don't shop every week, though I go to rite aid usually at least every two weeks to use up my UP rewards.

If there's a really great sale, I make sure to go early, and I've never once come across someone rude. Sometimes I've had cranky cashiers, but I just try to be as nice as I can and usually they mellow out by the time I'm done. You learn which cashiers are the best, and then get in their line when you have a lot of coupons. :)

Anonymous said...

A side note about the rain checks - You don't receive Up and Up rewards at Rite aid with rain checks, but the manager at the Rite Aid in Bountiful suggested to me to do an IOU. So I pay for the item like I bought it, if it is already sold out, get my up and up rewards, and then bring my receipt with the cashiers signature on it the next week and pick up my items. I've never couponed outside of Utah, but I love how much it has saved me here, thanks to the wonderful coupon blogs!

Anonymous said...

All of the comments about shelf clearers are a bit annoying. Did u ever think that the sotre doesn't order enough product to meet demand? I went to riteaid in salt lake there are three total one by me is always wiped out tons of couponers, one a 20 minute freeway drive and one a 30 min drive. Anyways my point is I went sunday afternoon to find the last four lysol wipes no lysol toliet cleaner and 1 resolve stain cleaner the clerk didn't even think it was the right resolve. I am almost positive they didn't order the resolve. I have had the store manager approach me about what to order and I have special ordered not to receive my order at all. Rainchecks are nice but I get less that way since by the time my store restocks two weeks later the ups I was going to use to pay for those items r expired. For utah I think all riteaids should stock twice a week. I have coupons that r going to expire before my store is restocked! Everyone gets rainchecks too. So get ready to battle and try to enjoy it. Also if u go for a deal not every blog is talking about I bet u can get it. I coupon at the grocery store but honestly haven't seen a tremendous savings. Beer rebates r awesome though in utah u don't have to buy beer!

Rebecca R said...

My cousin recently moved from Utah to D.C. and has been lamenting how much she misses the Smiths deals here. Even with some of the downsides to couponing here, I'd rather deal with them than not be able to do it at all.

Hillary said...

I moved from Utah to Ohio and you guys have it easy! You have a SUPER newspaper rate ($96 here) and you have Grocery Smarts to do all the sales matching up for you. There are coupon bloggers where I live (including myself) however none of them know what is a good price so they blog everything that has a coupon regardless if it's a good price or not.

One advantage: Our Kroger doubles coupons up to $1 all the time!!

Anonymous said...

My favorite stores to shop at are Target (because they let you stack a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon) and Smiths. I only shop at Winco when they put out their ads with store coupons and you can stack a manufacturer coupon on top of theirs. I occasionally go to Walgreens, because it seems they are usually out of stock. I make even fewer trips to Rite Aid, the one close to me is so rude and the other one is a little far away.

I don't get upset if the shelf is clean when I get there. I have decided to take the attitude "It's not a big deal, maybe next time" It really is not worth getting all bent out of shape if the deal is not there. I have much bigger and more important things to worry about. Plus, like others have said, Smiths deals usually go more than one week. I just got my Ronzoni Pasta at Smiths the second week. I try to get rainchecks when I can too. I love the Smiths rewards program and getting that golden envelope in the mail. I always take my reusable bags. You get 5 points per bag and those really add up. $4.50 of my rewards last time was just from bringing in bags!

I also always take my coupon binder with me and have gotten a lot of great deals using coupons on already clearanced items at many different stores.

As far as people getting upset about couponers getting way more than they need just for their stockpile I have to say this... work is really slow for my husband and we have periods when we have gone 5+ months without a paycheck. THANK HEAVENS I had a stockpile!

I too have made friendships with the cashiers and managers at the stores I frequent. It helps out a lot!

Anonymous said...

Before everyone starts taking offense at these comments I'm about to make, I assure you they are said without any anti-mormon sentiment as I am one. Here's why couponing is different in Utah - because stockpiling food is a concept that is already imprinted on the minds of the majority of Utahans. Mormons are a very "End Of Days" culture. They are counseled over the pulpit to maintain a 2 year supply of food, not just a 3 month supply as is the standard with couponing. Mormon women are also counseled to stay home with their families rather than work outside the home, making penny-pinching more of a necessity than just merely a good idea. It's a perfect storm. The two worlds collide in a very satisfying explosion of frugality and obedience. Mormons also believe in not limiting the size of you family, creating the following equation:

Family of 10 on every street x number of streets x 2 year supply + free pasta = absolute mayhem.

As for shelf-clearers, relax. Buying in bulk is the component that makes couponing pay off in a big, big way. That is why we subscribe to multiple newspapers, right? Anyone who subscribes to multiple newspapers is guilty of overconsumption, not just the guy that got there before you or the woman with all the kids in her oversized cart. We've all had successes and we've all had failures. Learn the in's and out's of your particular store and there will be much success.

Anonymous said...

I am speaking of the shelf clearers that blog every deal, have no intentions of eating, & just got 30 of something because the overage makes their other groceries free...and have one kid. I understand the mormon influence of why it is different here. I am that stereotype but somewhere in trying to create a good thing... food storage... it turns into an obsession to get kudos for how much you can pile on your kitchen table and photograph with a $retail / $paid title.

PS: BountifulBaskets.org is awesome. :)

Anonymous said...

Shelf clearing certainly is a powderkeg, isn't it? Most comments also mention Rite Aid. Anyone else notice the pattern? 4 bars of soap in one purchase doesn't make anyone a shelf-clearer, but it might leave the shelf empty at a Rite Aid.

Everyone should have to work a stint in retail as a prerequisite for shopping. If you know anything at all about retail, you know that Rite Aid Stores simply do not have the ability to stock deep or restock in a weeks time, no matter how many couponers complain. The expectation that any one store, especially a national chain, should be more willing to better prepare for us by somehow anticipating every hot coupon or possible scenario for stacking coupons in any region of the country at any given time is laughable. Suggesting that an individual store manager should take it upon himself to limit quantities for someone that he might deem selfish is completely ludicrous not to mention discriminatory. Seriously - if there was a store out there limiting quantities specifically for couponers we'd all be outraged and screaming about how lucky they are to have our business because they make 8 extra cents. We'd band together and boycott.

You can blame Utah, blame Rite Aid, or blame the person who got there first. The bottom line is that if your needs are not being met, you are in the wrong store.

Here is the question that I have about couponing in Utah after reading all these comments - who has the greater sense of entitlement in Utah? Is it the person who took all the freebies or the person who got none? I think this is far more shocking that a 4% coupon redemption rate.

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