Rebecca Smithers is consumer affairs corresspondent for The Guardian. In an article in The Guardian (June 16, 2010) she looks at the increasing popularity of online discount vouchers. "Consumers," she says, "are turning to online money-off vouchers to save on travel, days out, entertainment and eating out."
Smithers explains that research has revealed that Britain's spending habits have, over the next decade, mirrored the post-second world war era of food, clothing and petrol vouchers, with consumers turning to online discount coupons.
The website bestvaluefares.co.uk, a website set up by Britain's train companies to help passengers find the cheapest fares and latest offers, undertook a survey to review the spending habits of people in Britain. It showed that about nine out of 10 adults regularly use online vouchers, tokens and offers to get the best deals on travel, tourism and entertainment. The survey claims that this voucher culture is set to be at the heart of leisure spending in Britain just as it was for necessities in the late 1940s and 1950s.
David Mapp, who is the commercial director for the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), said: "We've launched bestvaluefares.co.uk because customers are making purchasing decisions based on offers and money-off vouchers more than at any time over the past 50 years."
Smithers says that there are other discount websites that have reported growing consumer demand. But there is also a surge in the use of money-off vouchers. MoneySupermarket Vouchers for example, experienced a 54% increase in visitors. Discounts offered by Alton Towers, Chessington World of Adventures, Camelot theme park, Delta Force Paintball, Chester Zoo, Vue Cinemas and Hollywood Bowl seem to be the most popular. Another discount website, VoucherCodes.co.uk, has also seen traffic rise fourfold for day-out related vouchers.
Restaurant vouchers have also risen in popularity. This has also been a major phenomenon according to moneysupermarket.com. With such vouchers, diners have now typically been able to save £3m every day on the cost of eating out. The number of people using restaurant vouchers has risen 30% over the past year. Furthermore, nearly 60% of the population has discount-dined in the past six months using discount vouchers. Smithers notes that more than one in five of us say we now won't go to a restaurant unless it's offering a discount voucher.
The voucher website Save.co.uk also underook some research and confirmed that vouchers have well and truly entered the mainstream. Its research showed that 89% of respondents believe the recession has made it more acceptable to use vouchers. It seems that 72% are using more vouchers today than this time last year. Smithers adds: "The research also showed that 79% use vouchers for food shopping, with eating out the second most popular area of expenditure (47%)."
Tell us if you use discount websites and what are the best discount sites you have found.