| 13.4°C Dublin

Shoppers rush for coupons in economy drive

COUPONS and special offers are back in vogue, as money-conscious shoppers try to make their euro go further in the supermarket.

A new report by the National Consumer Agency has found that more than half of shoppers were using the cash-saving coupons and offers by the end of 2009.

It also found that two-thirds of shoppers are actively looking for cheaper ways of living.

"The greatest change is in the number of shoppers who are beginning to take advantage of special offers and using coupons, up 15pc since the middle of last year," said the agency.


But the report also showed that more than three-quarters of Irish shoppers would like to see more long-term lower prices rather than one-offs and promotions.

"Consumers need to guard against complacency when it comes to value for money," said the agency's Fergal O'Leary.

"People may feel retailers have lowered their prices as much as they are going to, but I would not share that view.

"I think there is still a way to go."

While almost 70pc of the shoppers who were surveyed said life is as enjoyable now, despite the recession, a similar number said they shop around for the best prices.

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (Mabs) has said the new approach to shopping is essential for families struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table.

It also said that it was now finding that it is not just people from low-income backgrounds who are seeking its advice.

"Now we are finding people who have never had to budget in the past are contacting us," said Michael Culloty, of Mabs.

"Because they have lost their job or lost income, it has become necessary."

Consumers have received both good and bad news this week, with the announcement that gas prices are due to drop by 8pc, while VHI premiums are to increase by an average of 8pc.

The lower gas prices will be introduced from the start of next month, although the ESB has said it would not be reviewing its price structures at the present time.

The cost of visiting the dentist is also set to drop, as the country's largest dental group slashes its prices by 30pc in a bid to stop people travelling to the North for treatment.

Smiles Dental Group said it has renegotiated costs with its dentists, landlords, suppliers and laboratories to enable it to pass on savings to patients.