The biggest shopping news of 2012 included big changes at J.C. Penney and Food Lion, the continued explosion of daily deals, and changes to store rewards and coupon policies.
J.C. Penney has remained a hot topic on the Shoptimist blog since it made changes to its coupon policy (they’re no longer accepted), named Ellen DeGeneres its spokeswoman and altered its sale schedule.
Since the initial changes last January, the retailer has done away with the monthly deals and “best prices.” Now, shoppers have two options: everyday prices and clearance prices (the final markdown of the product). The retailer did hold a sale on Black Friday, but otherwise the cheapest prices to be found in stores will be the regular clearance markdowns. There are no other scheduled sales to date.
However, shoppers still miss their coupons and aren’t as pleased with the current selection. The weekly sales are also missed by many.
Still, there are a few things that could get shoppers’ attention in the future. There’s still a chance that Sephora cosmetics could be added to Roanoke J.C. Penney stores by 2015. Additionally, the specialty “shops” in stores will increase to 40 (there are currently 11 in the Valley View location) this year. Even more will be added by 2015.
Will these changes appeal to the angry shoppers who have abandoned the store since early 2012?
Last March, Food Lion made some in-store changes. Aisles were widened, prices were lowered and the produce section was expanded. Local shoppers left mostly positive comments on the blog about the changes. After visiting a Food Lion, I appreciated the ample room for navigating a cart and have noticed the prices are more competitive than in the past. The produce section seems to have a better selection as well.
Additionally, kiosks that dispense Food Lion coupons were installed in stores. These coupons cannot be stacked with manufacturer coupons, which are still not doubled by the grocer, but the coupons offering dollars off your total purchase are attractive.
Doubled coupons and more self-checkout lanes remain on the wish list of many shoppers, which is something we’ll keep an eye on in 2013.
Walgreens introduced the Balance Rewards program in September. It allows shoppers to earn points for purchases that can later be traded in for store discounts. Rewards start at $5 for 5,000 points and go as high as $50 for 40,000 points.
To earn additional points, shoppers can enroll in Walk with Walgreens, which will give them 10 Balance Rewards points for every mile walked and tracked through the website.
This new program did not end Register Rewards, a program similar to the loyalty program at CVS. However, the introduction of Balance Rewards did cause some confusion because shoppers can now receive both points and Register Rewards for purchases.
Can the retailer come up with a better way to combine the two programs in 2013?
It seems too good to be true, but Dollar Tree, the store where everything is $1, started accepting coupons in August.
With coupon values regularly reaching 50 cents to $1, this meant lots of freebies and bargains. The retailer regularly has name-brand products that often have corresponding coupons such as Ziploc, Glad and Campbell’s.
But just a few months later, in early December, the store made some policy changes. Now, shoppers can use only two Internet coupons per household, per day and no retailer-specific coupons will be accepted.
I think the first change is the biggest. The previous policy limited it to two Internet coupons per transaction, so you could check out twice if necessary. I’m a little shocked that retailer-specific coupons were accepted in the first place.
One of my favorite new online retail sites is Groopdealz, which specializes in flash sales and daily deals of boutique and Etsy vendors.
Etsy continues to grow in popularity, so a marriage between the two sites means fantastic deals on unique items. Of course, there are multiple sites like this to choose from, but this is one I can attest is legitimate.
I have found many pieces of jewelry and art prints for $10 or less on the website, and shipping often is free or minimal. I suggest “liking” the site on Facebook. The retailer sends out updates every time a sale is starting or new merchandise has been added.
What retail/shopping changes are you hoping to see in 2013?