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MacDill's $2 Million Coupon-Clipping Bonanza Leads in DoD

Special to American Forces Press Service

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala., Feb. 1, 1999 – Commissary shoppers at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., pocketed more than $2 million in fiscal 1998, making them No. 1 savers in DoD's $114 million coupon-clipping bonanza.

"It's a tradition at MacDill," commissary officer Del Hoercher crowed. He added that his store, though only sixth in sales volume in DoD, is historically the No. 1 coupon redeemer. Two other contributing factors, he said, are supportive vendors who throw a lot of double-couponing events and a large number of military retirees in the Tampa area.

DoD's top 10 stores alone accounted for $16.5 million in coupon savings in fiscal 1998. Fort Belvoir, Va., DoD's sales leader with over $83 million in business, is second in line with $1.8 million in redemptions. The other eight are McChord AFB, Wash.; Luke AFB, Ariz.; Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Fort Meade, Md.; Fort Campbell, Ky.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; San Diego Naval Station; and McGuire AFB, N.J. The average coupon face value redeemed was 59 cents.

Military shoppers worldwide are no strangers to saving grocery money. They save about 25 percent on their bills just by using the nearly 300 stores operated by the Defense Commissary Agency, and those who clip aggressively can save another $700 according to one agency estimate. Military couponers generally save more than the average civilian clipper.

Ironically, commissaries are seeing less couponing. Customers saved nearly $155 million in 1995. Agency officials attribute the decrease since partly to the smaller force and base and store closures. Some manufacturers are trying different selling strategies, cutting back on coupons or discarding them altogether in favor of lower shelf prices. Customer feedback, however, also reveals less time and inclination and the perception that coupons are less valuable these days.

The commissary market is still ripe for plenty of savings though. Companies often target coupons exclusively to military shoppers -- they appear only in installation newspapers, special "military only" mailings or are hand-delivered in stores.

7 Commissary Couponing Tips:

  • Coupons are good in overseas commissaries for up to 6 months after their expiration date -- so send your expired coupons to friends and families overseas.
  • As an incentive, put away your coupon savings in a separate account for something special. Some families find they save enough money for an annual vacation.
  • Get your kids involved by paying them a percentage of the savings for clipping and organizing coupons. They also learn the value of saving and smart shopping.
  • Compare unit prices after subtracting coupon values from product prices. Smaller sizes may be better deals when you use coupons.
  • Organize your coupons according to the store layout or your usual trip through the aisles.
  • Grouping your coupon purchases could speed up your checkout.
  • Don't embarrass yourself by trying to cash coupons without buying the products -- you'd be attempting fraud, and so would the cashier and store if they let you.

[Based on a news release from Eastern Region-Southern Area Public Affairs, Defense Commissary Agency, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.]

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageCashier Elvira Hernandez scans a customer's coupons at the MacDill Air Force Base Commissary, Fla. Saving its shoppers more than $2 million, the MacDill store redeemed more coupons than any other of the 300 stores operated worldwide by the Defense Commissary Agency. Senior Airman Sonny Cohrs, USAF  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageSenior Airman Phillip Ward retrieves a coupon from a dispenser at the MacDill Air Force Base Commissary, Fla. Saving its shoppers more than $2 million, the MacDill store redeemed more coupons than any other of the 300 stores operated worldwide by the Defense Commissary Agency. Senior Airman Sonny Cohrs, USAF  
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