Online coupons become business driver when money is tight

DADE CITY, Fla. The bad economy means good business for online coupon exposure, the St. Petersburg Times reported this week.

Many businesses are now using the power of the Internet coupon to attract more shoppers to their markets. Sources said that last year 2.6-billion coupons were used by American shoppers. The surge marks the first time in almost two decades that there was not a decline in coupon use.

Hits at various coupon Web sites have increased 66 percent in May compared to the same time last year, said HitWise online-competition research group. Yet Web-based coupon-ing remains a small industry—of the 279-billion coupons issued last year, only 0.2 percent were sent out online.

The biggest online coupon company, Invenda, operator of E-centives.com, has never turned a profit. In fact, as of the beginning of the year, the company faced a deficit of $162-million.

However, The Coupon Clippers, a coupon mailing that has turned into profitable online business, told the Times that it has recently been signing up customers by the thousands. According to the article, The Coupon Clippers’ sales have grown by about 25 percent in the last 12 months. The Coupon Clipper first launched its online presence in 1998.

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