During the recession, coupon clipping was taken to a new level -- even spawning a TV show called "Extreme Couponing," but two recent studies show consumers cut their use in 2012.
One study from coupon industry consulting firm Inmar found that 3 billion coupons were redeemed in 2012, a decrease of 14.3 percent from the estimated 3.5 billion coupons redeemed in 2011. Another survey conducted by NCH Marketing Services found coupon use fell by 17 percent.
Experts say the reason for the decline is that shoppers have gotten savvier at saving money and no longer need coupons; however, they also say digital coupons mean people aren't accessing paper coupons as much.
Even so, experts say it's common for coupon use to rise when the economy is struggling and then decrease as the economy improves -- but there were fewer coupons in 2012 overall.
According to Inmar's research, about 310 billion coupons were distributed, which is down from 313 billion in 2011 and a large drop from the 336 billion issued in 2010.
Both studies also found that the coupons in 2012 tended to offer smaller discounts and expire more quickly than in the past, leading consumers to begin going to multiple stores to seek the best prices and choose store brands instead of name-brand items even when a coupon is involved.
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