If you like your grocery shopping routine just the way it is, don’t get too comfortable. A new report says the way we get our groceries will undergo major changes over the next decade. Online grocery shopping will “fundamentally alter” your local store. Supersized stores may shrink to become “small-format, convenience-oriented” destinations. And “the grocery checkout line will disappear within 10 years.”

No checkout lines? Then who will take your coupons?

No one, it turns out. Because paper coupons will become obsolete. So enjoy couponing while you can, because apparently there won’t be any coupons by 2029!

These predictions come in the form of a report from CBRE, a commercial real estate services and investment firm. Its latest “Food In Demand” report focuses on the future of the U.S. grocery industry. And its pronouncement about the demise of the traditional cashiered checkout line – and its impact on couponing as we know it – is perhaps the report’s boldest prediction.

“Advancements in cashier-free shopping technology like sensors, smart scans and automated payments will make standing in checkout lines a thing of the past,” the report reads. CBRE cites advancements like “carts with built-in barcode scanners and credit-card swipers, mobile-payment apps, weight sensors and cameras, and merchandise-scanning robots” as paving the way to a completely cashier- and checkout-free future.

But you can’t use paper coupons without stopping at a checkout lane. Current checkout-free shopping experiences like those that allow you to scan items as you shop, or Amazon Go stores where you don’t have to scan items at all, simply aren’t compatible with paper coupons. Having to stop so someone can scan your coupons defeats the whole purpose of going “checkout-free”. Even present-day self-checkout stations don’t always let you scan your own paper coupons, and those that do often prompt for human assistance if you use too many coupons, or too many high-value ones.

So does a completely checkout-free future automatically mean a paper coupon-free future as well? The CBRE report doesn’t say so explicitly, but that’s kind of the implication.


As it turns out, “coupons weren’t an item that we looked into on this project,” CBRE spokesman Kris Hudson told Coupons in the News. “One of our researchers, however, had this compelling first-person observation,” he offered:

“I just stopped by the new Amazon Go store next to our office. I was told that if a coupon was available you would receive an email and once you accept the coupon on your email it will automatically be applied to your account and deducted from the corresponding purchase the next time you shop. I think this is the easiest/most logical way coupons will be used in a checkout free environment.”

So maybe the CBRE researchers simply aren’t couponers, since the drastic Impact of checkout lanes’ disappearance on the entire coupon processing industry, and the billions of paper coupons issued and redeemed every year, didn’t immediately come to mind when making their bold prediction.

Their other predictions are mostly in line with what we’re already seeing in the grocery industry. Online, specialty and other non-traditional grocery sellers will gain ground. Existing grocers will offer smaller, more convenient locations to defend their turf. And grocery stores will offer more higher-priced items and services like prepared meals and in-store restaurants, in part to help offset the higher costs of grocery delivery.

But unlike other alarmist predictions that your neighborhood grocery store itself is doomed in the face of online competition, CBRE says don’t worry.

“Any resultant negative impact such as store closures or a significant reduction in real estate demand likely will be minimal,” the report reads. CBRE is In the commercial real estate business, after all, so it has a vested interest in the survival of brick-and-mortar stores.

So your local grocery store may be in for some changes over the next decade. But CBRE is still bullish on the continued existence of physical stores. If only they could offer the same assurance about physical coupons.

Photo by salman.javed


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