As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we also welcome the holiday shopping season. Over the next few months, millions of people will scour stores and websites to find the best gift at the right price.
While the Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays will keep us on the look out for great deals, there is a new form of shopping that offers big discounts all year.
The concept is called social buying and it can be found on websites such as Groupon.com and LivingSocial.com. The idea is simple: Local and national merchants offer steep deals of 50% or more off if a specific number of consumers purchase the discount.
If you have never visited a social buying website, I recommend you check it out. The deals are locally based and are usually from local merchants, such as spas or coffee shops, though in some cases large national brands get involved. For example, back in August, GAP offered $50 worth of apparel for $25. Rarely are the discounts on basic necessities, but it’s okay because everyone likes to enjoy life, and that is what these sites are trying to allow you to do. If you choose to purchase a deal, you can give it away if you decide you won’t be using it before the expiration date.
With great discounts on fun products and services that are easy to share, the question remains, should you be using these social buying websites for your holiday shopping?
The quick answer is yes, as the benefits definitely outweigh the negatives. But you need to keep the person you are shopping for always top of mind. For example, most of the deals are local small business and therefore if the recipient of this gift does not live or work near the location, the potential costs of travel could make the deal useless.
Unlike American Express or Visa prepaid gift cards, you want to make sure the person you are buying the coupon for would visit the location or use it. As an example, in New York, LivingSocial.com is offering a Russian Turkish bath discount. While the companies offering the deal could be legit and get great reviews, you want to make sure the deal purchased will be of use to the recipient.
Lastly there is no chance for refunds. The reason the deal was able to take place is because enough people purchased it. Therefore, be absolutely sure the deal will be used or the investment was low enough that if not, the cost is minimal.
Sites to Check Out
Throughout my post I have mentioned a few social buying websites, but here is a list of ones we recommend checking out:
Groupon.com was launched in Chicago in November 2008, but now serves more than 29 million subscribers in over 300 cities in 31 countries. Deals range from 50% to 90% — on average Groupon.com posts 400 per day from different areas around the nation.
LivingSocial.com, like Groupon.com, allows you to earn discounts on restaurants, spas, healthcare and local events in your neck of the woods. Deals range from 50% to 70% and last 24 hours.
BuyWithMe.com is smaller but similar to the aforementioned sites. You might find a few deals from merchants not willing to wait the months to have their deal posted on the bigger sites.
With analysts (National Retail Federation) predicating an increase of between 9% to 16% in online sales this year and as much as $900 million just at online retail stores the Monday after Thanksgiving (comScore). Social buying sites are an additional way to keep the discounts around while keeping your savings in the bank.