Western New Yorkers can’t get enough coupons.
Consumers here are more likely to use coupons than shoppers almost anywhere else in the country, research shows.
When top couponing website RetailMeNot.com pulled data earlier this month to see who clicked on its coupons most, the Buffalo Niagara region ranked 10th on the list per capita.
Other regions at the top of the list included the New York, Boston and Philadelphia metropolitan areas.
But that’s just the latest evidence of our frugal ways.
A Nielsen Scarborough report released in March showed Buffalonians are 61 percent more likely than the national average to use coupons for groceries more than once a week.
“Buffalo indeed ranks very high with frequent coupon users,” said Jon Miller, a spokesman for Nielsen Scarborough.
When it comes to using coupons for services or nongrocery products, Buffalo has the second-highest rate of activity in the country, being 68 percent more likely than the national average to do so.
It is second only to Milwaukee, which exceeds the national average by 79 percent.
“Buffalo is like the coupon mecca of the world,” said Arun Jain, a marketing research professor at the University at Buffalo School of Management who has studied couponing extensively. “In Buffalo, consumers have been taught that no coupon means you’re not getting the right price.”
Helping boost the region’s coupon use are several factors.
The city has a high Sunday newspaper readership, which experts say correlates with strong coupon redemption, since Sunday newspapers come filled with coupon inserts. Buffalo Niagara has the second-highest Sunday paper penetration rate in the country, reaching 58.9 percent of households here, according to Nielsen Scarborough.
Western New York has a diverse ethnic population as well as a high concentration of seniors, single-parent households and lower-income workers, each of which is statistically more likely to use coupons, according to Jain.
Those demographics also make Buffalo a popular test market for new products, the launches of which are usually accompanied by a flurry of coupons intended to entice consumers into trying them.
“Often if it succeeds in this market, it will succeed elsewhere. You wouldn’t test products in San Francisco or New York City, those places are too cosmopolitan,” Jain said. “If you want something to go mainstream, you want to try it in Buffalo.”
Another indicating factor tied to heavy coupon usage is the price of gasoline, which has risen across the board. Buffalo Niagara’s gasoline prices are among the highest in the country.
The Queen City’s frugal habits make it the number one market in the country to use grocery coupons more than once a week at 61 percent – more than Milwaukee, which is 52 percent more likely than the national average, and Tucson, Ariz., which is 49 percent more likely to use them that often.
Consumer habits nationwide have changed since the economic downturn of 2008. Pinched shoppers turned to couponing to maximize their budgets, and the trend has continued.
Since 2010, online coupon use has more than doubled among females and nearly tripled among consumers age 50 and older, according to a survey by Omnibus.
“I think it’s exciting to see that we are such a frugal nation, and it’s impressive that Buffalo is at the top of that,” said Christy Rabil, a spokeswoman for RetailMeNot.com.
The most popular coupon offers Buffalonians grabbed on the coupon site were for $5 off a $50 purchase plus free shipping at Target, 20 percent off a single item at Bed Bath and Beyond, and free shipping for orders of $35 or more at Amazon.com.
Another offer in the top 10 here was for discounted tickets to Darien Lake Amusement Park.
Though changing consumer habits have led retailers to advertise larger percentage discounts since the beginning of the Great Recession, especially on clothing, the Omnibus survey showed consumers are just as likely to use coupons offering smaller savings.
Roughly 43 percent of coupon users consider discounts up to 25 percent worth taking advantage of. They’re also most interested in coupons that offer a specific dollar-off discount and least interested in coupons for free shipping.
The Omnibus report accounted for all online coupon usage, not just that at RetailMeNot, which commissioned the survey.