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Today's daily deal? Who cares.

By Jessica Dickler, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- After Gilt Groupies changed the 12 o'clock hour and Groupon made vouchers cool, users may finally be over it all.

Traffic to flash sales and daily deal sites has been dropping over the past few months, according to online traffic monitor comScore. Gilt is down 22% since the start of 2011, and Groupon has fallen off 13% during the same time period. (Both are still up year over year.)

Considering the eruption of new deal sites, it's not surprising that more shoppers are boycotting rather than buying.

In just the past two years daily deals and flash sale sites have grown so huge that they inspired a slew of copycats -- like LivingSocial, BuyWithMe, Rue La La, ideeli, Beyond the Rack, Swirl and HauteLook -- and second-market sites where consumers can unload those impulse purchases.

Sales at these sites grew 60% in 2009 and 70% in 2010, according to American Express Business Insights, which tracks the spending habits of its 90 million cardholders. But now consumers may have hit their saturation point.

"My inbox is inundated with sale emails that I delete. I don't read them anymore because they all blend together," Ruby, 24, said.

Leslie Holland, 49, says she occasionally buys deals from Groupon and LivingSocial when they offer discounts at stores or restaurants near her home in Louisville, Ky., but otherwise deletes sale notifications from Rue La La, Gilt and Swirl among others.

"I delete at least 100-150 emails a day, most from sale sites," she said. "Too many sales start at noon and I can't stop in the middle of my day to buy things I don't need."

Roger Adams, 38, goes one step further. He says he used to delete them but "now I go and actually unsubscribe to those that send too many emails."

In reaction, some sites, like Savings.com, are aggregating daily deals into one email customized to each user's preferences. But even these services have a hard time standing out in a crowd.

"With daily deals, spring sales, free parking at the airport, there are amazing deals but there's just a deluge of deals coming to you at every angle. It's becoming more challenging," said Savings.com CEO Loren Bendele.

Ultimately, only the strongest sites will survive, predicts Larry Joseloff, a vice president of Shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation.

"It's kind of like social networking," he said. "At one point everyone was trying to build a social network, but there can be some overkill. A normal individual is not willing to be part of 10 networks." To top of page

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