If there's a silver lining to the recession, it's the competition that's driving businesses in nearly every industry to woo consumers with ever-escalating deals.
That's good news for you -- the smart shopper -- but it can be time-consuming to separate the hype and hollow promises from the truly great deals out there. Online coupon and deal Web sites, in particular, offer great savings opportunities -- as well as the potential to waste your time and money if you patronize one that falls short of its promises. And this can and has happened.
When you're winnowing winning Web sites from the herd of hollow-promise-pledging competitors, keep this advice in mind:
· More Americans than ever are shopping online. In fact online sales rose again last year, even when nearly every other segment of the economy stayed flat or dipped. This means more businesses will hop on the information superhighway in order to stay competitive, and you'll have even more opportunities to find great deals.
· If a coupon or deals site doesn't do business with the stores where you shop, just how helpful is it? Sure, you may get a cheaper price from an obscure online merchant that you find on a discounter Web site, but you'll be sacrificing the peace of mind you enjoy when you deal with retailers, merchants and businesses you already know are reliable.
· You can patronize one Web site for your retail purchase needs and another for online shopping needs like booking travel. But your savings will add up faster -- and you'll spend less time hunting for bargains -- if you can find a comprehensive site that offers deals with both retail and online sellers, including top travel sites like Expedia, Priceline andTravelocity.
· If you're already spending money online, it makes sense to do business with a Web site that will actually reward you for your continued patronage. At the forefront of the trend is something different -- sharing commission from retailers with the site's customers.
This article was prepared in cooperation with ARA Content.