One of the two major processing centers for coupons in the U.S. has been shut down due to coronavirus.
We’ve shared about how coupon clearinghouses are a crucial part of the couponing life cycle, and now, the closure of the NCH clearinghouse in Mexico presents a big challenge for couponing in the near future.
Here’s what you need to know:
Mexican lockdowns closed one of the two leading coupon clearinghouses.
For the past 50 years, NCH Marketing Services has processed manufacturer coupons redeemed at major retailers in the U.S. — including Walmart, Kroger, CVS, and Target from their clearinghouse in Juarez, Mexico.
According to Coupons in the News, as part of its response to COVID-19, the Mexican state of Chihuahua deemed the NCH clearinghouse nonessential, and closed it in mid-April.
Stores have to hang on to redeemed coupons, and can’t get repaid.
And that’s like, millions of dollars tied up.
After a customer redeems a coupon, the stores send the coupons to clearinghouses, which count the coupons. The clearinghouses then bill the manufacturers for the total amount redeemed, and then the stores get paid.
In 2018, NCH reported consumers redeemed 1.715 billion coupons for consumer packaged goods (CPG), totaling $2.7 billion in value. For now, NCH is asking their retail customers to hang on to their coupons.
NCH is actively trying to find a new way to process coupons.
The coupon clearinghouses know that if they don’t allow retailers to have coupons processed, they could change coupon policies — at least in the near-term.
We’ve already seen BJ’s Wholesale stop accepting coupons, and Giant Food Stores has reduced the number of coupons they’ll accept. Kroger is leaving coupon acceptance to the discretion of each store right now.
Rather than wait for the Juarez plant to reopen, NCH told Coupons in the News that they’re exploring “solutions that will allow us to receive and process coupons.”
The other major clearinghouse is still open.
Inmar Intelligence, which processes coupons in the Mexican states of Coahuila and Nueva Leon, are “fully operational,” the company told Coupons in the News.