As a couponer and frequent shopper, you’re bound to encounter empty and cleared shelves. Unfortunately, stores do run out of stock, and some couponers abuse the system by overbuying, but these are not things that we can control. So what can you do? Focus on what you can control and make it work!

1. Don't be part of the problem

Don't get twenty of one coupon and then clear a shelf of a product when you get to the store. Learn about special ordering. Take the initiative to speak with your local store management about the option of ordering product specifically for you. Don't take twenty coupon booklets, unload the blinkie machine, pocket the whole tearpad of coupons, or take off every single peelie. If there are only two products left on the shelf, it’s okay to buy both if you need them. This does not constitute shelf-clearing.

2. Don't be a victim

Don't waltz into the store on the 6th day of the sale and then cry a river when the shelf is empty of the sale priced items. In fact, even if it's the first day of the sale and there is an empty shelf, take matters into your own hands. Find the next store and see if they have any stock. Consider calling ahead to the store to ask them about their stock before you spend your day driving around.

3. Make it work

I know many of us live in an area with lots of couponers, making it sometimes difficult to find items in stock in some store locations. I know many of us are working parents without the luxury of kid-free shopping time. I know money is tight and we can sometimes get desperate to get all the deals because we need them so badly.

We're not alone in our situations.

When you see a couponer buying a cartload of all the last groceries in the store, or when you feel, for whatever reason, someone is doing something in the coupon world that is adversely affecting others, you have two choices:

1. Get angry. Complain, feel discouraged. Maybe even quit trying. You could even give them a dirty look and judge them from afar.

2. Get over it and make it work!

  • Even if it's hard, shop sooner. Go the first day of the sale or the day new shipments come in.
  • If you live in a hub of coupon activity, drive to a less popular store or price match sale prices at Target or Walmart. Find your niche!
  • Special order, special order, special order! If you're buying in large quantities, always special order.
  • Be in command of your situation! Talk to your local store manager nicely.  Express your concern and ask if he or she has any suggestions or options for you.
  • Help others around you learn to coupon shop the right way. Teach your friends about special ordering and building a stockpile slowly.
  • Remember that it's not the last sale of the century! Shampoo will be under $0.50 a bottle again—and soon!  Don't worry about getting a full year supply all in one shopping trip. The best way to build a stockpile is adding just a handful of items a week.
  • Expand your repertoire of stores. Think outside the obvious box.
  • If a store is out of a product, get a rain check. A rain check is a slip of paper that you can get from a store when they are out of an item that is on sale. The slip of paper allows you to come back when they have the item back in stock to purchase it for the sale price.

4. Be part of the solution

Becoming a Krazy Coupon Lady or Gent is all about climbing into the driver's seat in life and supporting and uplifting your friends, neighbors and fellow shoppers!

Stores don't want to run out of products.  They make money when they sell products, so help your stores know what to order in! Call your local store manager and set a time to talk with him or her. Share your frustrations and discuss what you can do to solve the problem. Ask about special ordering, and help your manager know what's going to sell out before it does. Be part of the solution!

5. Focus on what you can control

Do not spend your time obsessing about the actions of others. Instead, focus on what you can control and make it work! If you’re worried about the way cashiers are being treated, go out of your way to be polite. If you’re worried about a shelf being cleared and special ordering isn't an option, go early and go often to get what your family needs.


5 Ways to Deal with Empty Shelves