Nov. 30, 2009— -- There is a new online discount sweeping the country this holiday season -- groupons or group coupons.
"I've already got Christmas done this year, and I didn't have to go anywhere. They are all from Groupon," frequent groupon user Lisa English said.
English checks Groupon.com's daily offers every morning for the deals, which can mean as much as 80 percent off the original price.
"What I'm doing is finding new adventures. I'm going places we've never been," English said.
In Dallas, 225 customers experienced a relaxing day at the Hiatus Spa and Retreat for a fraction of the cost, all through groupon.com.
Spa owner Bill Garrison said it is good for business because it brought in hundreds of new customers.
"Groupon is targeted to local communities, so you're advertising and reaching out to people in your immediate area. You're not looking at potential customers, they are bringing you actual customers," Garrison said.
Groupon.com operates in 35 cities and claims to have made more than 800,000 deals.
Deals are available for everything from spa treatments to sky diving lessons, limo rides, wine clubs, even teeth cleaning.
But it is not enough to want the coupon yourself; you have to hope that five of your friends and five of their friends and so on also sign up. Once the minimum amount is met the deal begins.
"I tell a lot of my friends about it," Caryn Cochran said.
Groupons Means Big Savings for Online Bargain Seekers
Deal seekers can sign up for free at groupon.com and then receive daily alerts. Most of the deals last only a day, though, so you need to act fast. Cochran saved $180 on a facial from a groupon deal.
"A $240 facial for $60 ... I went on the spa Web site just to make sure that was really the price and it really is $240," Cochran said.
In Washington, D.C., when Z Pizza offered half-priced pies if at least 150 people responded to the groupon, 2,000 online bargain hunters bought in.
"It's difficult to find new customers. Maybe they end up being a regular guest," Z Pizza managing partner Chris Handlon said.
Groupon.com charges the business owner a small cut of each sale for its service. The Web site claims more than $35 million has been saved so far, which means both local businesses and buyers win.
If you purchase a deal through groupon.com, you can offer it as a gift and the recipient is none the wiser. The paperwork you receive states the value of the product or service rather than the price you actually paid.