Most Women Consider Themselves to Be Bargain Shoppers

American women are savvy shoppers, according to a new national poll featured in the May 2011 issue of ShopSmart magazine, from the publisher of Consumer Reports. Over three quarters of women (76%) consider themselves to be bargain hunters, with 10% admitting they like the challenge of finding the best deal. The poll also found that two thirds (65%) of women typically wait for a sale to purchase items.

“I’m such a sucker for a bargain, especially when I have a coupon or there’s a sale for 50% off,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart.  “According to ShopSmart’s national poll, many of us are helpless against a great deal, and retailers know this. However, there are so many new opportunities these days to shop smarter, and if you play the sale game right, you can save really big.”


  • Although money is the main motivation, with 40% saying they bargain shop because they are on a limited budget and 25% indicating that they hate to overspend, it is not the only reason women go bargain shopping. In addition, 83% of women say that if money were no object, they would still seek out a deal.
  • 37% of women feel guilty paying full price without trying to get a deal.
  • Although two-thirds of women typically wait for something to go on sale before purchasing, a sale can be dangerous for some. Over three quarters of women (76%) find themselves buying things they don’t need just because they are on sale, including 8% who do so frequently.
  • Nearly two thirds (64%) have regretted at least one sale purchase. Of those who have sale regrets, only 38% typically try to recoup their error by returning the item. Nearly one quarter (24%) typically donate the item and 16% will just put it in a closet or drawer.


  • Women shop a variety of stores in search of their bargains, including mass merchandisers (93%), dollar stores (69%) and discount stores (61%).
  • Coupon usage is widespread among women with 91% using coupons to get a better deal, including 51% who print coupons from the Internet, 29% who use competitor coupons and 11% who use coupons directly off their cell phone.
  • 84% of women have purchased clothing off season, 49% have purchased an item with an imperfection to get a discount, 21% have waited in line outside a store to get a deal and 20% have purchased clothing not in their size for a deal.


  • Most women are proud of themselves when they are able to find a good bargain. The majority of women (90%) like to share news of their great deal with others, including over one-third (35%) who tell anyone who will listen.
  • But be careful who you believe, as nearly one-fifth (19%) of women confess to misleading others about how much they paid for a particular item.

Super Couponers’ Top Tips:

  1. Check your grocery store’s policy. Some stores will double and even triple coupons on an item (usually up to a certain amount, typically 99 cents, max). But sometimes that’s only on certain days of the week, so find out ahead of time and plan your shopping accordingly.
  2. Save your coupons for when items are on sale. Plan ahead using weekly sales flyers to match deals with available coupons. But also take your entire coupon file to the store with you; many stores don’t advertise all deals.
  3. Take inventory mid-month. Many coupons expire at the beginning or end of the month, so take time in the middle of each month to see what coupons in your stash need to be used ASAP.
  4. Track price cycles. Items usually go on sale at regular intervals. Keep a log of the price of items you buy most often, so that you know how much they usually cost, when they will likely go on sale, and when a sale is really a good deal.
  5. Watch closely during checkout. Cashiers sometimes neglect to properly scan all coupons and store-loyalty cards. And if you accidently picked up the wrong product size, you could end up wasting a coupon.
  6. Don’t automatically reach for store brands. ShopSmart‘s tests over the years have shown that store brands are often just as good if not better in quality than national brands. But with the right combination of sale price and coupon savings, a national brand might actually be cheaper.
  7. “Stack” coupons to maximize your savings. Some stores include additional coupons in their weekly circulars and in the e-mail newsletters sent to loyalty-card holders. You can use a store coupon on top of a manufacturer’s coupon for even more savings.
  8. Shop at stores that accept competitors’ coupons. Strange as it may seem, some stores do so; after all, they want your business! Make one of them your go-to spot and take other stores’ exclusive coupons with you when you shop. Sign up for loyalty cards at all of the stores in your area to get insider deals.
  9. Use coupons on trial sizes. Unless a coupon stipulates that you can’t, using a coupon to buy trial sizes of items could make them free.
  10. Don’t toss those expired coupons! Your store may still accept them—don’t be afraid to ask.

The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a telephone survey of a nationally representative probability sample of telephone households. 1,010 interviews were completed among women aged 18+. Interviewing took place over February 10 – 20, 2011. The margin of error is +/- 3.1% points at a 95% confidence level.

Launched in Fall 2006 by Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, ShopSmart draws upon Consumer Reports’ celebrated tradition of accepting no advertisements and providing unbiased product reviews. The magazine features product reviews, shopping tips on how to get the most out of products and “best of the best” lists. ShopSmart is ideal for busy shoppers who place a premium on time. ShopSmart has a newsstand price of $4.99 and is available nationwide at major retailers including Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, Borders, Kroger, Safeway and Publix. ShopSmart is available by subscription at