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Four years ago, as double coupon policies were dropping like flies all across the country, one regional grocery chain bucked the trend by making its double coupon policy even better. And couponers at Pennsylvania-based Weis Markets rejoiced.

But nothing lasts forever. Four years later, Weis is now dropping double coupons, too.

“Effective February 20, 2022 we will no longer double manufacturer’s coupons,” reads a notice posted on Weis’ website and in stores. Shoppers are invited to learn about “additional ways to save” at Weis, like the “hundreds of ecoupon offers” available. Just don’t expect them to double in value anymore.

A Weis customer service spokesperson said the decision was made “so that we can invest in additional Weis Club savings and other programs to benefit our loyal Weis customers.” It’s not necessarily a surprising move, since many other stores have discontinued doubling coupons over the past decade. But it is somewhat surprising, in that Weis recommitted itself to doubling coupons not very long ago.

Weis, which has approximately 200 stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, West Virginia and Delaware, updated its double coupon policy in early 2018. It once had a one-dollar limit to the doubled value of coupons, so only coupons with a face value of up to 50 cents would truly be doubled, and anything more would simply be augmented to a dollar. Under the new policy, though, any coupon with a value up to and including 99 cents would be doubled, to a maximum value of $1.98 for a single doubled coupon.

“A significant number of our customers use coupons,” Weis spokesman Dennis Curtin told Coupons in the News at the time. “Our new policy helps us increase our overall value proposition with an important and durable part of our customer base.”

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So maybe couponers aren’t quite so important and durable anymore?

Weis first began doubling coupons back in the 1970’s, when doubling was all the rage. Intense grocery competition led retailers to seize upon whatever advantage they could offer, and match whatever advantage their competitors offered – if one grocery chain in a market doubled coupons, chances were good that others would follow suit.

Coupons valued at up to a dollar were relatively rare back then, though. So for a long time until the 2018 update, the one-dollar doubling limit didn’t pose much of a problem (though apparently coffee coupons posed something of a problem for a while – a 1979 Weis ad notes that “to insure product for all our customers, we are limiting our Double Coupon offers to one coffee coupon (one instant and one ground coffee) per shopping family.”) The coffee coupon restriction didn’t last, but the double coupon policy did, until now.

Over time, what was once a promotional perk became a shopper expectation. And some retailers resented having to cover the cost of double coupons themselves, since manufacturers only reimbursed them for coupons’ face values. “They are sorry they are in double coupons,” one marketing executive said in the early 1990’s. “They can’t get themselves out of it.”

And early attempts to get out of it didn’t go well. Weis’ Pennsylvania neighbor Giant Eagle tried doing away with double coupons in some of its stores back in 2007, but quickly reversed course after customers complained. Kroger stopped doubling in its Texas stores in 2011, and angry shoppers set up a website demanding the store “Bring Back Doubles.” It didn’t, and instead slowly phased out double coupons in all Kroger stores by 2017. By that time, perhaps emboldened by Kroger’s move, other grocery chains had been doing the same – even Giant Eagle got rid of doubles for good in 2020.

The advent of digital coupons gave many grocers the excuse they needed to discontinue doubling. Most retailers didn’t double digital coupons (though Weis did), so as digital coupons gained in popularity, coupon users got used to the idea that many of their coupons would be redeemed at face value only. So they were less inclined to object when their paper coupons were redeemed at face value only, too.

It may have taken decades, but more and more grocers who grew to be “sorry they are in double coupons” have indeed managed to “get themselves out of it.” And now you can add one more grocery chain to that ever-growing list.

Image source: Weis Markets

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