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Happy Couponing

As lights go up and holiday parties grow near, I enjoy getting into the holiday spirit. One thing that happens this time every year is that my inbox starts filling up'?¦not only with warm holiday wishes from friends and family, but also with greetings from some of my favorite retailers. Subject lines such as '10 best gifts for under $100'?, 'Deck the Halls with 25% off + free shipping,'? and '12 Deals of Christmas'? are like little presents delivered straight to my inbox. However, these deals also make me slightly anxious as I consider how to take advantage of each of the offers. I think to myself,'? will I get a deal like this after the holidays? Should I use this coupon? Should I wait for an even better deal?'?

According to an exclusive Ad Age/Ipsos Observer survey of U.S. consumers, approximately 85% predict that they will spend the same or less than last year on holiday gifts, and 30% of consumers will purchase presents for fewer people. This online survey of more than 1,000 consumers found that people are cutting back in a number of ways, which has led to an increase in coupon use over the last year.  Whether they are delivered to your inbox, via snail mail, or clipped out of the Sunday paper, coupon usage is predicted to increase even further.  Out of those respondents, 25% reported that they have used daily discount sites such as Groupon, Living Social, and Buy with Me; a new category of coupons that has recently exploded onto the scene.

However, marketers should proceed with caution before jumping on the coupon bandwagon. SymphonyIRI Group data shows that coupons are not necessarily driving incremental sales, but more so offering discounts to those consumers already planning on purchasing the products. So, the '30% off all outerwear'? coupon J.Crew sends out will most likely be used by the consumer who has been eyeing that peacoat and is waiting for a sale to purchase it, not by a first time consumer to the retailer.

Today I received a coupon from Ann Taylor Loft in my inbox for 40% off of my entire purchase in-store or online. I might have to make a stop on my way home!  If you've spotted any recent must-use deals in your inbox, post them here!

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