Publix rolls out new coupon policy this week

As a father of four boys, Stephen Serge of Naples relies on coupons to help stretch his family’s food budget.

“You wouldn’t believe how much four boys can eat,” said Serge, whose sons range in age from 5 to 17.

“We have to make at least two trips to the food store every week and coupons help us keep things affordable.”

Serge shopped at the Publix along Davis Boulevard in East Naples on Monday, the same day the Lakeland-based grocery chain rolled out its new coupon policy.

The goal of Publix Super Markets was to create greater uniformity store to store, said company spokeswoman Shannon Patten.

“A consistent policy will make things easier for our guests to understand and hopefully will ultimately help them take greater advantage of savings opportunities,” she says.

On its website, Publix lists its coupon policy as accepting manufacturers’ coupons but one per item, only original Publix coupons, valid Internet coupons and coupons from competitors whose names are posted at each store.

Original policy inconsistencies included rules affecting acceptance limits on manufacturer’s and competitor’s coupons, as well as special offers and other discounts that could be utilized in combination, Patten said. Both issues were among those addressed in the new guidelines and are likely to have at least some effect on overall customer savings, she said.

“I didn’t notice a big change in savings at the register today, but I’ll have to wait and see if the new policy impacts our budget over time,” Serge said.

Susan Vance of Naples, who is retired, said she relies on coupons to help her stay within her food budget. She said she spends an average of three hours a week cutting and comparing coupons.

“It’s too soon for me to tell if the Publix policy changes are going to have a big impact on me personally,” said Vance, who also was shopping at the Davis Boulevard Publix. “If so, I’ll have to cut back on what I buy, since I can’t afford to increase my food budget.”

Publix, with 1,034 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee, will still allow individual store locations to select some of the competitive coupons on both food and pharmacy items.

However, Publix will continue its existing policy of not accepting coupons from either Walmart or Target at any of their locations.

Neither Walmart nor Target have announced changes to their coupon policies. Officials with Tampa-based Sweetbay Supermarket were unavailable for comment.

Target spokeswoman Erika Winkels said her company has seen a rise in coupon use in recent years and will continue to evaluate its policies to ensure customers’ needs are well met.

According to top coupon websites, “couponing” has become trendy since the downturn in the economy and the rise of the popular television show, “Extreme Couponing.” The show, which airs on The Learning Channel, highlights individuals who save thousands of dollars on their food bill each year and build up stockpiles of non-perishable items for security in case of economic calamity, or which they donate to charity or the U.S. armed forces.

The digital age and easy access to technology has given rise to a whole new generation of bargain shoppers who can easily download coupons to their computers or even to their mobile phones for instant redemption at the checkout register.

Publix is also testing updated technology to reduce checkout times for coupon users, Patten said.

“Couponing has always been a popular way for people to save money,” said occasional coupon cutter, Aiden Soura of Naples. She was shopping earlier this week at the Publix along U.S. 41, across from Coastland Center.

"'When the economy gets tough, people will do whatever they can to save a buck. You can’t blame them.”

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Comments » 2

bsdetector1 writes:

INCORRECT: I have a copy of the policy in front of me. My store accepts Target. Competitor's coupons accepted are up to the discretion of each individual Store Manager.

u2cane writes:

.........and this policy has been out for weeks, not just rolling it out now.

More crack reporting. Late as usual.

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