Daily deals make great gifts

Over the last few years, daily deal sites have grown enormously in both popularity and membership. The largest of these sites -- Groupon, Living Social, Woot and Eversave -- are all expected to draw large crowds of virtual shoppers on the hunt for gift deals this holiday season.

These deal-of-the-day websites and the many others that have sprung up recently offer consumers opportunities to purchase deeply discounted gift certificates that can be redeemed at both local or national companies. And with so many consumers still on the lookout for savings this holiday season, daily deal sites are an attractive source for great gifts on a tight budget.

Typical deals offer 50 percent off the retail price of the goods or services and become valid once the number of deals purchased reaches a predetermined threshold. Registration is free and the daily deal offers for everything from food, fitness and fashion items to salon services, sporting events and weekend getaways are delivered via email and localized to each user's market area.

For those consumers who want the best shot at deals offered on multiple sites, but don't want to spend hours reading multiple email offers, PriceGrabber has launched deals.pricegrabber.com, a one-stop shopping site that allows users to look through hundreds of deals offered by more than 20 daily deal websites via a single email each day. Other deal aggregators -- sites that gather information on deals offered by multiple companies -- include Dealery, Dealnews and Yipit.

Giving daily deals as gifts generally works two ways. The purchaser either presents the gift certificate itself or uses the deal to purchase the actual gift item. Either way, there are few, if any, drawbacks to daily deal shopping, particularly if you have access to multiple sites in one daily email.

There are only two things to keep in mind when purchasing daily deal vouchers as gifts:

* Note the expiration date. Most daily deal certificates have an expiration date, which is often one year from the date of purchase. Especially when purchasing activities, accommodations or services, make sure that the person receiving the gift will be able to use it within the specified time frame.

* Read the offer carefully, including the fine print. Some offers come with conditions. For example, a yoga studio or hair salon might limit the use of the vouchers to new customers or specify that the deal can only be used for particular classes or stylists. In most cases, however, daily deals are straightforward and don't require more than one read to decipher.

Courtesy Metro Creative Connection