In the face of rising food prices and a slowing economy, consumers are clipping coupons once again. Only, they don't need scissors and a local newspaper so much as a computer, printer, and maybe a mobile phone.
The number of page views on Web sites that feature money-off coupons for all manner of consumer products surged 38 percent, to 281 million, in March from a year earlier, compared with 5 percent for the internet as a whole, according to comScore. Those visitors spent a total of 145 million minutes on the sites, a 37 percent increase. While the number of new users to coupon sites isn't growing faster than the larger internet audience, existing coupon site users are certainly becoming more active. "User engagement by deal-seekers appears to be ramping up," says comScore analyst Andrew Lipsman. "As a general rule, something like online coupon site activity would increase as a result of macroeconomic trends."
Individual sites say they're detecting increased use. Coupons.com and RetailMeNot.com say they have seen large traffic spikes in the past three months. Visitors to Coupons.com, a decade-old site that lets users print coupons that can be redeemed in stores, grew 35 percent in the first three months of 2008, compared with the prior quarter, says the site's CEO, Steven Boal. Similarly, RetailMeNot says its growth for February, which typically slows after the holiday shopping season, is already back at December levels. "There is definitely an increased use of coupons across the board," says RetailMeNot co-founder Guy King.
Fueling the traffic growth is the rapid growth in food prices.
Source: Business Week, http://businessweek.com
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