I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, but not being sure how many of my readers even work with coupons at all, and would understand what I am talking about, I haven’t done so until now. One of my friends recently asked me about shelf clearing, so that prompted some thoughts on this subject on my part.
So many times it has happened that I would get to Rite Aid, CVS, or Walgreens and be greeted by completely empty shelves, especially if the deal for that product that week is especially good (free product after coupons or even a moneymaker). I usually try to do my shopping on Sunday afternoon or Monday at the latest, especially if there are deals I care about. It’s not like I wait till the last day of the sale. Yet, more and more often this is becoming a sad picture to greet the eyes of those who didn’t get there first thing Sunday morning to sweep the shelves clean.
I have to say I am pretty against shelf clearing. Now, having said that, I also want to say that I DO NOT clear shelves, no matter how good the deal is, even if I have enough coupons for all the items left on the shelves. Now, if I get to the store for a specific item, and it’s the only one left on the shelf, then I would maybe take it, but this would be the only situation I would do that. And before I do it, I usually ask myself 3 questions:
1. Would I or my family use this item personally or am I buying it just to donate?
2. Do I actually need this last item at this moment, or do I have enough in my stockpile to last me till the next sale comes around (which they always do)?
3. If the shelves were clear of this item at this store, would I bother driving to another store to get it (basically, to assess how badly I need it)?
And if the answer to all 3 is a resounding “yes” (well, yet to the first part of the first two questions and the third one), then I would go ahead and get the item. If any of those 3 are a “no”, or maybe, I would get a rain check from the store manager instead.
I don’t see anything wrong with noble reasons of “buying a lot of a product to donate it to a good cause”. That is what I do very often, and enjoy doing it quite a lot. But completely clearing the shelves of a product, not leaving ANY for other buyers, who might need it themselves at that time, is a no-no for me. I hope more of the coupon shoppers would realize this simple fact and not be grabbing everything on the shelf, just because it’s a good deal.
To give you all an example, I had about 60 of the Johnson and Johnson various baby care product coupons this week, and Rite Aid is having an awesome sale this week on all these products, which basically after the +UPs and my coupons made them free. I ended up driving to 5 different Rite Aids over the course of last 3 days so as not to deplete the stock at any single one. And let me tell you – they were pretty well stocked on those. But I wanted to make sure, that even though I am planning to donate this to a crisis pregnancy center not far from us, there won’t be a mom, who will walk into the store later in the week, and be greeted by empty shelves, when she really needed baby shampoo or lotion.
If you do couponing on a large scale (or even a small scale), what are your thoughts on this subject? Have you encountered shelf clearers before?