Late this morning I headed to Kroger to pick up some double papers and was shocked to see a price increase. For those of you unfamiliar with doubles……In Atlanta we have two Sunday editions. The early edition comes out on Saturday and is filled with ads and coupons. The regular edition comes out on Sunday and generally consists of all of the same ads and coupons. Looking at the front of these two papers side by side is like a “spot the difference” game. One paper has red highlights/fonts while the other has blue. Generally the front page photos are the same, but the headlines are tweaked a little. The Sunday Atlanta Journal Constitution doubles consist of one early edition and one regular edition. By doubling papers the newspaper is able to get rid of the early editions. Largely (and probably exclusively) double newspapers are purchased by consumers who use coupons since they are getting two newspapers, each of which has it’s own set of coupons. The idea is to save money purchasing two newspapers doubled together.
A single Sunday AJC costs $2.00. Just last week a double Sunday AJC cost $3.00 (that’s $1.50 each paper). Starting today, the double AJC costs $3.50 (that’s $1.75 each paper). SHOCK! Now we are saving a whopping 50¢ when we buy a double. For reference, the price of a double newspaper was $2.50 in 2009. On February 7th 2010 the price of a double increased to $3.00. Seventeen months later the price raised another 50¢ and is $3.00
I can get my AJC newspapers cheaper at Rite Aid now! I am at the 20% discount level on my Rite Aid Wellness card. With my 20% discount a single paper costs $1.60. Two papers cost $3.20, which is now 30¢ less than a doubled AJC.
I buy 6 newspapers a week. There are 52 weeks a year (let’s just assume that every week there are coupons to make the math less confusing). So, I purchase 312 newspapers a year (and yes, I recycle each one). The price of 312 newspapers at Rite Aid at the 20% discount level is $499.20. The price with the AJC’s new double price is $546. It now costs me more money to purchase doubles papers than it does to buy single newspapers at Rite Aid. Starting today, I will no longer purchase double editions of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. If shopping for newspapers at Rite Aid is not a possibility for you, then you may want to research purchasing whole coupon inserts online, which I will be posting on as soon as I do my own research.
While I was at Kroger I talked to the newspaper delivery man who was bundling the newspapers in to doubles. He was the one who informed me of the price change – I didn’t immediately spot it. I stood there and chatted with him for a bit. He said that the Walmart across the street was “outraged” by the price increase and refused to have doubles made. Way to go Walmart! For a moment I thought about driving across the street to let them know that I fully support them in their decision to not carry doubles at the $3.50 price, but then remembered I had two little girls in tow.
In the past nine months it seems like using coupons has become increasingly difficult. Some stores have stopped doubling coupons while others have tightened their coupon policy. The amount of high value coupons has decreased. The total number of coupons available in Sunday newspapers has decreased. While paper coupons appear to be a thing of the past, digital coupons are (somehow) becoming more popular. I shudder when I think about this. Digital coupons limit you to ONE item.
Our parents tell us stories about clipping coupons and saving the grocery stamps. Those days seem long ago. But now with increasing newspaper prices and decreasing coupon availability I shudder to think what stories my grandchildren will hear.