Thursday, February 12, 2009

Clipping the Coupons

My husband often teases me about how much I love a bargain. I do, and I have the coupons and loyalty cards to prove it.

Stop & Shop, Pathmark and Waldbaums all consider me a loyal shopper. I have CVS’ little red key fob on my key ring in case I forget the regular-sized loyalty card. And I never leave home without my Banana Republic, Gap or Ann Taylor credit cards.

While I look forward to the many rewards and promotions I receive via e-mail and snail mail, Banana Republic’s most recent promotion could be setting the tone for things to come regarding loyalty rewards.

Most of my favorite stores do a pretty good job of rewarding me for my patronage. Stride Rite sends me a $3 discount card every few months reminding me that one of my girls needs new shoes or sneakers. Ann Taylor and LOFT send 20% discount promotions, and The Gap and Banana Republic tempt me with $10 rewards certificates for every 1,000 points I earn (not a tough task when every $1 I spend equates to five points). And just this morning I printed out an online coupon for $5 off my next $30 CVS purchase.

While I love receiving discounts, I can also recall countless times when I was at checkout fumbling in my wallet or bag trying to remember where I tucked away the coveted coupon. Rather than hold up the line, more often than not, I say, “forget it,” only to pay full price.

Just as often, I return home ranting: “Why can’t retailers just electronically load these promotions onto my loyalty or store-branded credit-card account and apply it when the card is swiped during checkout? Enough with these paper coupons!”

The Gap Inc. must have finally caught on to my pain because this week they sent a promotion that does just that. I just received an invitation from Banana Republic to “Save an Extra 10%” on every purchase between now and April 30. But instead of the usual credit card-shaped promotional card, the invitation featured a letter from Banana Republic president Jack Calhoun that expressed Banana’s gratitude for my loyalty during “these changing times,” and invited me to take 10% off of every card purchase I make over the next 90 days. More impressive, the letter went on to add “No offer cards to clip. No e-mails to print. Simply use your Banana card to automatically receive your discount.”

Banana Republic’s promotion is putting those pretty hints of spring -- in the form of earth- and spice-toned dresses, skirts and tops -- within reach. And as I struggle to get out of the door with my two pre-schoolers, finally, I don’t have to try to remember where I put my coupons.

Now if I can just make -- and stick to -- a reasonable spring wardrobe budget, I am in business.

By Deena M. Amato-McCoy

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