Dealed out? Traffic to deal sites dropping

Posted March 23 at 5:44 a.m.

After Gilt Groupies changed the 12 o’clock hour and Groupon made vouchers cool, users may finally be over it all. Traffic to flash sales and daily deal sites has been dropping during the past few months, according to online traffic monitor comScore.

Gilt is down 22 percent since the start of 2011, and Groupon has fallen off 13 percent during the same time period. Though both are still up year over year.

Considering the eruption of new deal sites, it’s not surprising that more shoppers are boycotting rather than buying.

In just the past two years daily deals and flash sale sites have grown so huge that they inspired a slew of copycats — like LivingSocial, BuyWithMe, Rue La La, ideeli, Beyond the Rack, Swirl and HauteLook — and second-market sites where consumers can unload those impulse purchases.

Sales at these sites grew 60 percent in 2009 and 70 percent in 2010, according to American Express Business Insights, which tracks the spending habits of its 90 million cardholders. But now consumers may have hit their saturation point.

“My inbox is inundated with sale emails that I delete. I don’t read them anymore because they all blend together,” Ruby, 24, said.

Leslie Holland, 49, says she occasionally buys deals from Groupon and LivingSocial when they offer discounts at stores or restaurants near her home in Louisville, Ky., but otherwise deletes sale notifications from Rue La La, Gilt and Swirl among others.

“I delete at least 100-150 emails a day, most from sale sites,” she said. “Too many sales start at noon and I can’t stop in the middle of my day to buy things I don’t need.”

Roger Adams, 38, goes one step further. He says he used to delete them but “now I go and actually unsubscribe to those that send too many emails.”

In reaction, some sites, like, are aggregating daily deals into one email customized to each user’s preferences. But even these services have a hard time standing out in a crowd.

“With daily deals, spring sales, free parking at the airport, there are amazing deals but there’s just a deluge of deals coming to you at every angle. It’s becoming more challenging,” said CEO Loren Bendele.

Ultimately, only the strongest sites will survive, predicts Larry Joseloff, a vice president of, a division of the National Retail Federation.

“It’s kind of like social networking,” he said. “At one point everyone was trying to build a social network, but there can be some overkill. A normal individual is not willing to be part of 10 networks.”

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  1. Mustaphap March 23 at 10:53 a.m.

    I bet there is more than a murmur in Groupon now about not taking that $6B deal from Google

  2. Paul March 23 at 11:16 a.m.

    Or not.

  3. Joe March 23 at 12:06 pm

    The daily deal consumer has definitely become overwhlemed by the amount of daily deals that seem to be everywhere. If you feel the same, check out Chicago deal aggregator, DealRod
    They collect daily deals from many of the deal sites, then categorize the deals, so subscribers and visitors can shop through deals from a number of sites, based on their preferences.

  4. Evan March 23 at 12:08 pm

    “My inbox is inundated with sale emails…” welcome to which is your one-stop shopt for all the daily deals in your city, 1 email, 1 webpage only!

  5. reilly3 March 23 at 12:16 pm

    Once in a while there’s a useful deal, but lately it seems every day’s deal from these guys is a spa treatment, teeth whitening, flying lessons, etc. Give me a deal on something that comes close to a necessity and I’ll click on your site.

    Anyway, Groupon should have bit at that $6 billion when they had the chance. The field just gets more crowded, businesses and consumers get burnt out, and the deals run increasingly thin.

  6. lamonth March 23 at 12:44 pm

    unless the deal is from a restaurant for actual dollars, most of the deals are like the deals you get from jewel or dominicks when they have buy one get one free promotions – the one you buy cost almost just as much as two, if you get them on sale at a different store

  7. Montemalone March 23 at 12:45 pm

    The stores and restaurants that started this thing have realized it’s a money losing proposition. People buy a deal and use it once and never go back. The only places that will continue to offer “deals” are gonna end up being scams.

  8. Simon L March 23 at 3:55 pm

    I think people are getting fed up with deals like this. There are even sites popping up like this one by people tired of being inundated with all the emails: