Grocery ad

Would you rather flip, than clip?

Clipping coupons may not be as hot as it once was, but flipping through grocery circulars is as popular as ever. A recent study suggests that a growing proportion of shoppers would rather get savings from supermarket circulars, than from Sunday coupon inserts.

Those findings come from Market Force Information, and its annual survey of favorite grocery chains. The report’s declaration of America’s favorites Wegmans and Publix (and, to some extent, surprisingly, ShopRite) garnered most of the headlines upon its release a few weeks ago. But tucked away toward the end of the report, were some other insights into our grocery shopping habits.

Despite the growing availability of apps, digital coupons and other high-tech savings platforms, “printed circulars have not diminished in popularity,” the report declared. About half of the shoppers surveyed said they review grocery ads once a week. That’s more than the roughly 40% who told Coupons.com in a separate recent survey, that they use coupons every week.

Meanwhile, 14% are really, really into grocery circulars. They told Market Force that they go over the ads three or four times a week.


And these shoppers aren’t just browsing – they’re planning, and strategizing. 79% said they plan their shopping trips based on what products are advertised in the circulars, 61% use multiple circulars to compare prices between grocers, and 62% frequently decide to shop at a specific store because of the promotions that are offered there. If the sales aren’t good at a particular store that week, they’re liable to do their grocery shopping somewhere else.

But their devotion to the grocery ads doesn’t mean these shoppers aren’t interested in coupons at all. 65% are clipping store coupons from the circulars themselves.

They’re also turning to apps for coupons. About half of the shoppers surveyed said they had used a grocery app in the previous 90 days. Their number-one purpose for doing so was to access coupons, followed by scanning bar codes, comparing prices and making grocery lists. Apps offered by stores themselves are still the most popular, “while a nominal amount of consumers opt for third-party apps such as Checkout 51 (and) SavingStar.”

Some have predicted the eventual demise of the printed grocery circular. But their continued popularity eclipses that of coupons themselves, as coupon use continues to decline, while circular use holds steady.

So don’t count those printed grocery ads out just yet. We may live in an increasingly digital world – but saving money, it seems, never goes out of style.

Photo by William Allen, Image Historian



  1. It worked. So weird. But it will not allow me to use my real email, URL or name.

  2. Hey Bill. This is Ivy. My comments aren’t showing up. I think I may be trapped in the spam folder. Doing this test comment to see if I can get through.

  3. These days, I’m getting more deals from Aldi and the local market in town, then I am from couponing because I buy mostly only whole foods.

    • You are “unspammed”! And that is a good point – the sales circulars have deals on produce, meat and other fresh foods, while the coupon inserts do not. So there’s still good reason to check the ads, if you’re not interested in what’s being advertised in the coupon inserts.

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