– For my part, it was out of sight, out of mind. “The money was there, but since it wasn't in my checking account, it wasn't something I could simply use,” Christine Maesterlin says. The newspaper online.
More than two million Norwegians are members of Coop and many Norwegians have large sums of money in their membership accounts.
When Meisterlin received its 2023 co-op membership annual report, it got a big surprise. She had NOK 11,000 in her Coop member accounts, but earned just NOK 35 in one year. This corresponds to an interest rate of about 0.3 percent, which is just a fraction of what you could get in a high-interest account.
Get a little cash back on your purchase
If you're a Coop member and shop at its grocery stores, you'll save money that's deposited into your member account.
At Coop, you get at least a one percent return on everything you buy.
Figures for 2023 show Coop has paid a record dividend to members of NOK 1.4 billion.
Coop has more than 2.1 million members. They themselves calculate the total membership benefits at NOK 2.8 billion in 2023, half of which is paid as pure purchase profits to the individual member's account.
Members enjoyed the remaining NOK 1.4 billion in discount coupons and member deals, Coop reports.
– Profit sharing is the basic idea of cooperation. Members are a co-op's best and most loyal customers, and increased member trade and good member offers mean that this year's purchase profits once again exceed last year's payments, says managing director Philipp Engedal at Coop Norge.
Additionally, Coop members earned more than $9.6 million in reuse rewards on shopping networks in 2023, representing a 13 percent increase from the previous year.
Now hundreds of millions are flowing into member accounts
Meisterlin made a post on X and Facebook, where she expressed her frustration with Coop's low interest rate. She wrote in the post that she would withdraw all the money in her membership account and put it somewhere where she could earn more.
This post attracted attention, and many people particularly reacted to the lack of attention she received on Coop.
– After I published the post, I received a number of comments. There were many people who were surprised by how little you got from Coop. Then there was a bit of debate about whether it was wise to save money, Maesterlin told Netavisen.
Nearly identical salmon sold for twice the price
She also has a membership in Trumf, from which she will also withdraw funds.
In the past year, Maesterlin has become more aware of his finances and has been able to save where it can be saved. Therefore, she was not satisfied with the small amount of 11,000 kroner she had at Coop.
In order to make the most of what she had saved, she chose to deposit the money somewhere where she could get a higher interest rate on the money.
– Coop has a high-interest account with good interest, which you can transfer to if you want. “I wanted it to be in stocks with better returns,” Maesterlin tells Nettavisen.
Competitive interest rate
Although Meisterlin chose to withdraw its money based on the lack of interest it received, Coop believes they have a competitive interest rate.
– Unlike customer clubs, at Coop you earn interest on the money in your membership account, and the interest rate is competitive. That's why many of our members use their membership account as a savings account. The interest rate can vary depending on which cooperative you are part of, but banks also have different interest rates depending on how much you save and whether you tie up the money for a longer period, Harald Christiansen, communications director, tells Nettavisen.
Businesses continue to buy into the neighborhood: mum on plans
Hopes for 2024
Membership in co-ops increased by 131,878 members, meaning the Coop gained 2.1 million co-op members.
Of these, 35 percent are under the age of 30, and 58 percent are under the age of 40.
– It's encouraging that co-ops have gained so many new members in the past year, and we see the Coop's unique ownership model attracting many, especially younger customers. Cooperatives in Norway will pass more than 2.2 million cooperative members during 2024.