E-commerce has not yet gained complete dominance in the retail sector, even though Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) has damaged the brick-and-mortar part of the sector badly. Coupon use in the United States remains high, with 85% of American using coupons at least occasionally. Paper coupons are often used in place of smartphones, which some people use to buy items in stores without even using a physical credit card.
According to research from CreditCards.com:
- 85% of Americans use coupons (24% often, 29% sometimes and 32% occasionally).
- Paper coupon usage decreases with income and increases with age, but even 18 to 24 year olds are using paper coupons about twice as much as any other method.
The most surprising part of this is that young people read newspapers and open mail enough to find the coupons at all. Indirectly, the ongoing popularity of paper coupons is a testament to the longevity of newspapers and the U.S. Postal Service.
The coupon research results are good for companies like J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) and the Kmart and Sears divisions of Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD). As their sales falter, they have at least one tool that the CreditCards.com survey shows is still working. A coupon that offers 10% off is perceived by the customer as a deal, even if that deal is no better than one offered to other shoppers. The longevity of coupons draws from the need of so many shoppers to pay something less than “retail.”
“Dead trees aren’t dead when it comes to coupons,” said Matt Schulz, CreditCards.com’s senior industry analyst. “Plenty of Americans are still opening their snail mail and reading the Sunday paper. I expect paper coupons to lose some market share, though, as consumers and brands get even more comfortable using them electronically.”
Coupons come from the same trees used to print newspapers and letters.