If there was any question that printed coupon inserts have seen better days, the underwhelming start to this year’s insert schedule eliminates any doubt.

There will be no coupon inserts in your Sunday newspaper this weekend, making this the earliest date that both insert publishers have paused publication at the same time.

The SmartSource and Save inserts took a similar pause last year, which was similarly unprecedented. But that was after three weeks’ worth of eight inserts, including a double edition of Save on the first of the year. This year, there have been only three inserts so far, including last week’s extremely thin SmartSource, which barely qualified.


And while Save typically takes off a week in mid-January, it’s notable that this is the first time in recent memory it’s taken two weeks off in a row. It was news worth noting when SmartSource took off two weeks in a row for the first time ever back in October 2022. While Save’s two-week pause is not quite unprecedented, it is the first time since November 2012 that Save (then RedPlum) has sat out two consecutive Sundays, with the exception of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

The fact that we’re three weeks into the new year with only three coupon inserts to show for it, speaks to the format’s long, slow decline. As printed newspaper readership declines, manufacturers’ interest in offering coupons in Sunday inserts has declined as well. Figures released by Inmar Intelligence last summer showed that inserts’ share of all coupons distributed plummeted from its historic level of around 90%, to about 76%. And their share of redemption sunk to an all-time low of just 6.7%, as other formats – particularly digital – increase.

Back in August 2022, in honor of the 50th year of Sunday coupon inserts as we know them, Save publisher Vericast remained publicly optimistic about the format. “We believe in this strategy as a viable solution for our client partners,” a spokesperson told Coupons in the News at the time.

But when you combine the three-week pause over the holidays last month with the schedule so far this year, there will have been a single Save insert over a combined six-week period, and only a couple of SmartSources. So the two publishers may believe in the future of the format, to the extent that they’re still publishing any inserts at all. But for a coupon format that recently celebrated its 50th year, it’s a safe bet that it’s unlikely to be celebrating 50 more.

One Comment

  1. terrible times right now… corporation making huge profits but cant send down any coupons our way. P ng G has no laundry prints .. their pushing that stupid digital thing to load to phone. doesnt work. Unfortunately the bill failed to get us prints as well as digitals.

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