Despite the prevailing trend toward increased coupon redemption (+35% over the past five years), first quarter 2012 response was down by 7%.
We can't ignore that there are some emerging issues afoot here -- not the least of which is the improving unemployment rate. But it's probably too early to name it the culprit. More immediate and direct is what I'd call the Q4 "Hangover Effect" -- a significant decline in distribution at the end of last year simply made fewer coupons available for redemption early in the year.
And this isn't just a 2012 phenomenon. Looking back at 2011 & 2010, we see this Q4 Contraction in play, both positively and negatively.
|Q4 (Prior Year) Distribution Change||Q1 Redemption Change|