No Sunday Coupon Sneak Peek


Earlier this week, we looked back at 2023. Yesterday, we looked ahead to 2024. Today, the final article of the year does both – looking back at the year in coupon inserts, and looking ahead to what we might expect in the year ahead.

First, to get this out of the way – there will be no coupon inserts this coming holiday weekend. SmartSource and Save won’t return until January 7th, when they’ll publish one insert apiece.

That’s a far cry from past years, when one or both publishers offered double or even triple editions to kick off a new year. Back in 2018, they each actually published triple editions, stuffing your Sunday newspaper with a whopping six inserts.

But with fewer manufacturers offering paper insert coupons, and the resulting declining demand for space in the Sunday inserts, multiple editions are quickly becoming a thing of the past. There were only three double editions in 2023, all of them from Save. SmartSource hasn’t offered a double edition since April of 2022.

So it’s well known that traditional Sunday coupon inserts are a medium in decline, as more coupons go digital and fewer people subscribe to or buy printed Sunday newspapers. But for those who do prefer the format, they’re hanging in there as we head into 2024.


Of the two insert publishers, Vericast’s Save insert appears to be in a stronger position. It published fewer inserts than SmartSource in 2023 – 32 compared to SmartSource’s 37 – but it offered far more coupons in total. If you include the coupons published in the final two Unilever Super Saver inserts (which were published by Vericast), there were 1,236 individual coupons (give or take, depending on your region) offered in Save and Unilever-branded inserts in 2023. That’s very close to the 1,264 offered the year before.

SmartSource, however, has experienced a steep decline. Back in 2022, it was generally on par with Save, offering 1,221 individual coupons of its own. This past year, its total coupon count plummeted by nearly half, to just 651. While Save’s largest insert, the week before Mother’s Day, offered 78 coupons, SmartSource’s largest offered 37. Save’s smallest insert offered 15 coupons, while SmartSource’s smallest offered just three.

When you add it all up, there were 1,930 individual insert coupons available in 2023, down from 2,999 in 2022. Much of that has to do with the end of the Procter & Gamble brandSAVER insert, which offered 514 coupons in 2022 and just 43 in its final edition published at the very beginning of 2023. P&G coupons didn’t go away entirely, however, as Save picked up some of the slack, offering 81 coupons for P&G products throughout the year.

So where does this leave us as we head into 2024? The good news, for those who still use and look forward to printed coupon inserts, is that neither insert publisher is throwing in the towel and giving up on the format just yet, as both are planning new publications next week. But those inserts are very likely to get slimmer and more infrequent in the year ahead.

Inmar Intelligence reported earlier this year that there were 33% fewer insert coupons in the first half of 2023, and shoppers’ use of insert coupons was down 58%. While digital coupons represented half of all coupons redeemed by the second quarter of the year, insert coupons’ share slipped to an all-time low of just 6.7%. In both cases, coupons for food are fewer and further between, with the vast majority now for nonfood items like household supplies and personal care products. And there’s no reason to believe these changes will reverse in 2024, as manufacturers’ and shoppers’ preference for digital coupons continues to increase.

But groceries are still expensive! And shoppers are still going to be looking for ways to save in the new year. So brands that offer coupons in a single format preferred by a specific segment of the population, do so at their peril. The companies that publish brands’ coupons have long preached the benefits of diversification – offering coupons in the place and the format that shoppers prefer. Some, and perhaps the majority, prefer coupons in digital format. But even as insert coupons’ popularity declines, there are still billions of them out there, and hundreds of millions of them are redeemed each year.

So for many shoppers, opening the Sunday newspaper with scissors in hand may be a ritual from a bygone era. But for many others, it’s not extinct just yet. So in 2024, don’t look for the savings in your Sunday paper to be quite as good as they used to be. But keep on reading Coupons in the News, where you’ll continue to find weekly coupon insert previews – for as long as there are inserts to preview.

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