Groupon vs. the price of gasoline

When daily deal sites confront economic realities

Today's daily deal from Groupon offers me $33 worth of fancy cupcakes for "only" $16.

I like cupcakes. My kids love cupcakes. And I'm sure they'd get a kick out of the animal-themed cupcakes made at Cakes for Occasions in Danvers, Mass. (In reality, I'm not paying that kind of money for a dozen cupcakes under any circumstances, but work with me here.)

According to Mapquest, Cakes for Occasions is located 53 miles from my home. My car gets 20 mpg (blind guess) and the last time I looked gas was $3.50 a gallon.  That's $18.55 for gas, plus $1.40 for tolls, and now we have a dozen animal-themed cupcakes costing me $35.95 even with Groupon's half-off deal applied.

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Of course, I understand that your mileage may vary; that there are plenty of Groupon users who live closer to Danvers; and that this is an extreme if not unfair example.

But I wonder how many Groupon customers are routinely making these calculations.

And I wonder how many more will do so if, as experts predict, the price of gasoline climbs past $4 and heads for $5.

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