The fourth quarter is typically one of the strongest for coupon redemption, which usually makes it the wild card in determining how the level of coupon redemption for any given calendar year.
And 2011 is no different.
Inmar reports that the first half was fairly flat (Q1 was down 3% compared to the same period in 2010, but Q2 was up 4%). However the third quarter was up significantly at 13%, driving coupon redemption up about 5% for the first three quarters versus the same period in 2010.
So where will coupon redemption land this year?
- Will it be like 2010 when redemption was essentially flat because redemption fell off in the second half?
- Or, will it be more like 2009 when redemption was hyperactive all year because of the economic downturn -- ending with a 27% increase over 2008?
- Or, will it be like 2008 when redemption was flat because of a strong second half?
Would you believe "none of the above?"
The exact consumer response to coupons in the fourth quarter is anybody's guess. But, the industry is already up 5% in the first three quarters of the year versus the same period last year. And that's without taking into account any changes yet to come that will have a much lower growth hurdle since Q4 2010 was pretty rough, down 11%.
So at worst, we're on track to maintain the 5% bump we've seen so far. October is in the books and it showed slight growth. Now it all depends on how insistent shoppers will be to mix coupons with their holiday celebrations ... but for my money, I'm betting on the second significant increase in redemption that we've seen in the last 15 years.
How's that for a "Happy New Year?"