WASHINGTON — Mikki Madden doesn’t shop at Bed Bath & Beyond all that often. But she keeps a stash of hundreds of the retailer’s coupons, just in case.
“I feel like if I throw them away, I’m throwing away money,” said Madden, 53, a retired math teacher who lives in Seaford, Delaware. “I don’t think I’ve ever shopped there without a coupon.”
Bed Bath & Beyond has built a business on coupons. The housewares chain began mailing out 20 percent off “Big Blue” coupons almost 30 years ago, at a time when sweeping discounts were a novelty.
The idea was that the coupons would draw shoppers into the store, where they would then buy other items at full price. And for many years, it worked.
But now, after years of stalled sales and declining profits, the New Jersey-based retailer is pulling back on coupons in a broad effort to turn around its business. The company is mailing out fewer promotions and is choosier about how those offers can be used.
The coupon “program has evolved over time and will continue to evolve,” spokeswoman Jessica Jones said in an email.
Executives say weaning customers off discounts will ultimately lead to higher profits. But analysts say the retailer faces an even bigger challenge: Getting customers into its stores, even with coupons.
Last week, Bed Bath & Beyond replaced five board members, including its two co-founders, after activist investors called for an overhaul of the company. Cluttered stores, a dated website and confusion over prices have resulted in a company that “has lost touch with modern retail,” investors said in a March 26 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Bed Bath & Beyond says it is addressing those problems.