Local stores’ policies vary on coupon use

For retailers, coupons help draw shoppers into the store and keep them coming back. For consumers, it’s a way to stretch a budget, and a number of Centre County shoppers take advantage of discounts available to them.

“The coupons that are still available are used heavily,” said Jesse Burkholder, owner of Burkholder’s Country Market near Millheim.

He said more manufacturers are providing discounts electronically for stores that utilize shopper discount cards, and cutting back on printed coupons.

Burkholder’s, Giant, Weis Markets and Wegmans offer shopper discount cards, which give their customers in-store savings at the register.

“Everybody wins when we can draw more customers into our stores and keep them coming back again and again,” said Giant spokeswoman Tracy Pawelski.

And all offer to double the value of coupons in some form. Giant doubles coupons up to and including $1. Weis will double coupons up to 99 cents and Wegmans doubles coupons for a maximum savings of $1.

“Giant shoppers have a very high rate of coupon redemption — especially in State College where our customers really appear to know how to maximize value,” said Pawelski.

In fact, every one in seven transactions include the use of at least one coupon, she said.

Sometimes people will shop for as long as four hours, Pawelski said. “They really know how to look for savings in every aisle.”Coupon redemption averages 2 percent at Weis Markets — on par with the national redemption rate, said spokesman Dennis Curtin in an e-mail.

“While we believe the uncertain economy has impacted our customers, we have not seen an increase in coupon redemption so far,” he wrote.

Jo Natale, director of media relations for the grocery chain, said that redemption has been in the decline at Wegmans markets over the years, and is lower in State College than other stores.

“At stores in PA with the same coupon policy (doubling to a max of $1), the number of coupons redeemed is about twice what we see at State College, ” she wrote in an e-mail.

She added that average redemption rates in 2007 fell between 3 and 4 percent when compared with 2006. In State College, redemption was down about 10 percent compared with 2006.

Here are the four major grocery retailers in Centre County and a breakdown of their policies:

u Burkholder’s Country Market, 107 Burkholder Market Drive, Spring Mills

Coupons are accepted with a $10 minimum purchase and will be doubled up to 50 cents.

There is a maximum of savings of $1 when it comes to doubling coupons that are more than 50 cents.

Other coupons will be accepted at face value.

Only two coupons for like items will be doubled. All others will be redeemed at face value.

The store also has instant in-store coupons, which are printed at the register.

u Giant, 255 Northland Center and 2222 East College Ave.

The grocery store accepts and doubles manufacturer’s coupons up to and including $1.

Giant accepts Internet coupons with the exception of coupons for free items.

Coupons are also generated at the register. These include coupon for specific items based on purchase history, amounts off a next purchase and seasonal coupons for items, such as a free Easter ham.

There are some limits when it comes to coupons. For example, a shopper could use 100 coupons for 100 different items.

But if you have 100 coupon for the same item, the store will only accept four, doubling only the first one.

The grocery store offers also offer coupons that shoppers can print on its Web site,

u Hall’s Market, 491 East Sycamore Road, Snow Shoe

The store accepts manufacturers and Internet coupons, offering double coupons up to 99 cents. Coupons for more than a $1 are accepted at face value.

Coupons for free items off the Internet are accepted, but monitored and subject to limitation.

Hall’s has no limit on the number of coupons a customer can use. A customer with five of the same coupon would be allowed to use all five, and they would be doubled up to 99 cents.

The store has no shoppers card.

u Wal-Mart, 1665 N. Atherton Place and 373 Benner Pike

The retailer accepts manufacturers coupons, including those from the Internet, at face value.

“Every day we strive to offer the best prices to our customers day in and day out,” a store spokesperson said.u Wegmans, 345 Colonnade Blvd.

The store offers double manufacturers’ coupons up to a maximum of savings of $1.

That means 50-cent coupons are doubled to a dollar, but if you present a coupon for 75 cents, the most off you can receive is a dollar.

The supermarket accepts coupons printed off the Internet, but does not honor Internet coupons for free products.

There is no limit on the maximum number of coupons that can be used for varying items.

The store requires one manufacturers’ coupon per item, and will double up to four for the same product per day. Additional coupon purchases for the same product will be redeemed at face value.

u Weis, 560 Westerly Parkway, 1471 Martin St., 110 Rolling Ridge Road, all in State College; 501 N. Centre St., Philipsburg; and 945 E. Bishop St., Bellefonte.

The store doubles coupons up to 99 cents, with any coupon above that amount redeemed at face value.

For example, a 75-cent coupon would be doubled to $1.50. A $1 coupon would not be doubled.

Weis accepts Internet coupons, but limits the total amount of those coupons to $5 per shopping trip.

There is no limit on the maximum number of coupons that can be used for varying items, but coupons usage will be monitored to make sure the process is done efficiently and correctly.

If a customer buys four of the same item and has four coupons, each will be doubled. After the fourth coupon, any for the same product would be accepted at face value.

There is also an in-store coupon program, where customers receive coupons after they pay for products. These are activated by products the customers purchase.