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Coupon.com's Internet Coupon Index shows a marked increase in coupon offers and demand now, Boal tells CNBC.
The trend is eerily reminiscent of the pattern in late 2007, before the recession broke out in December that year.
“The index tends to run in a range,” Boal says. “In September, October, November in 2007, it popped out of its range for the first time. … And, for the first time since then, we are seeing a tripping out of the range.”
The payroll tax increase and rising food and gas prices likely are sparking the coupon activity, he notes.
Boal notes that the most popular coupons being redeemed right now are for soup, cheese, rice, pasta and M&Ms.