With the spread of COVID-19, some stores have suspended their coupon programs until further notice in an attempt to limit hand-to-hand contact between shoppers and cashiers. But could this temporary decision become more permanent, and can we expect other stores to follow suit?

Temporary or not, if you consider how more retailers are offering manufacturer coupons and promo codes in digital format on their apps, you can’t help but wonder, “Are paper coupons going away for good?”

Here’s what you should know about paper and digital coupons — during the coronavirus pandemic and for the future:

 

These stores have suspended or changed their paper coupon policies due to coronavirus.

BJ’s suspended use of paper coupons as of March 30.

Bj’s Wholesale Club, known for being one of the only club stores that accepts manufacturer coupons, announced that they would temporarily stop accepting paper coupons late last month. Instead, BJ’s has turned to clipless coupon offers, with savings that will automatically come off at the register.

Manufacturer coupons that aren’t included in their new BJ’s Savings Book offering clipless coupons are now available for use in their mobile app and site. Shoppers can load these digital manufacturer coupons to their accounts — no paper involved.

H-E-B has cancelled their store and digital coupon program.

Since inventory is changing so rapidly due to COVID-19, this Texas grocer has suspended its Yellow store coupon and digital coupon programs so it can focus on inventory. However, some users are reporting that H-E-B will still accept manufacturer coupons at this time.

Weis won’t take coupons at curbside grocery pickup.

For Weis, contactless curbside pickup means only online payments will be accepted for grocery pickup at this time. It also means no paper coupons are being accepted until further notice.

Peapod grocery delivery has stopped taking coupons for Stop & Shop and Giant.

Normally, you can place coupons in an envelope for your Peapod delivery driver to take and apply as credit to your next order, but no more. All deliveries are now contactless.

RELATED: These Stores Have Updated Return Policies Due to Coronavirus

 

The biggest retailers have legit digital coupons that can be used for convenient delivery and pickup.

Retail giants like Kroger and Target have already moved away from offering paper coupons in their weekly ads. Instead, they encourage shoppers to add digital coupon offers to their free online and app loyalty accounts. In a climate where shoppers are encouraged to limit contact in order to prevent the spread of disease, these offers are more valuable than ever — especially when you can use them for grocery delivery and pickup.

At Kroger, for instance, shoppers have access to Kroger digital coupons, which are both store and manufacturer coupons. They even offer Free Friday Download offers, giving app users a free item almost weekly. Users just need to enter their loyalty card info at checkout, and loaded savings will automatically come off your total. Kroger allows digital coupons in stores, for delivery, and for curbside pickup.

Target shoppers can experience the same convenience when they use the Target Circle app, which also offers store coupons that can also be used for delivery and contactless Drive Up.

RELATED: 14 Stores That Allow Coupons at Curbside Pickup

According to the Ibotta rebate app, only 1% of paper coupons get redeemed.

Ibotta states that only 1% of paper coupons are actually used, and shoppers should stop using them in order to save the environment.

Nearly 14 million…that’s how many trees die in order to support the paper coupon industry, according to Ibotta. So, in an effort to replace the wasted trees that were made into paper coupons that don’t get redeemed, Ibotta has pledged to plant 1 million trees for Earth Month (April 2020). They’re also pledging to highlight offers from two dozen brands that are reducing the number of paper coupons they offer by Earth Day 2021.

Not familiar with Ibotta? Ibotta is a free app that gives shoppers cash back for specific brands or items they purchase. Shoppers just need to upload proof of purchase (like a receipt) to the app for cash rebates.

RELATED: 9 Rebate Apps That Work for Online Grocery Purchases

 

 

Digital coupon redemptions are predicted to total a whopping $91 billion by 2022.

In 2017, $47 billion worth of digital coupons were used. That number is expected to nearly double by 2022, and maybe at a faster rate than expected due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As more and more people open up to the idea of grocery delivery and curbside pickup during this unprecedented time, we can also expect budget shoppers to be on the lookout for digital savings that can be used with these services.

Grocery delivery and curbside pickup offer convenience as well as a contactless way to get the products you need. Once people learn that, they may not go back to shopping in store where traditional paper coupons are most accepted — even after stay-at-home orders are lifted.

RELATED: Your Ultimate Guide to Grocery Delivery Services

 

For maximum savings, plan to use both digital and paper coupons on top of rebate apps.

It’s called coupon stacking and it’s how shoppers get free stuff and even make money at the store. Best part? You can even stack coupons at retail stores.

Take Target, for instance. You can often use a paper manufacturer coupon for say, diapers, on top of a Target Circle percent-off promotion and sale. Add a cash-back rebate offer on top of all that to sweeten the deal even more.

While digital offers are convenient, often you can only use one per user. But with paper coupons, you can typically redeem as many as you have as long as there aren’t limits.

Learn more about stacking coupons in The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Couponing, and download the free Krazy Coupon Lady app for ways to save with digital offers during COVID times and beyond.

 

UP NEXT: Best Money-Saving Deals & Tips During the Coronavirus Pandemic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are Paper Coupons Going Away for Good?