NEW YORK: Cash-strapped US consumers, trying to cope with credit crunches and cost-of-living rises, are increasingly avid for discount coupons.

Although clipping the vouchers from newspapers and magazines still has its place, online researcher comScore says the web is becoming increasingly important as a source of money-off deals.

Its latest data show page views on websites that carry coupons soaring 38%, to 281 million, during March, compared with the year earlier period. Traffic for the web in general increased five percent.

ComScore says visitors spent a total of 145 million minutes on the sites, a 37% increase, with existing coupon hunters becoming more active.

The site says visits increased 35% in the first quarter. Quarterly growth usually averages 22% to 23%, says ceo Steven Boal.  

Similarly, says its growth for February, which typically slows after the holiday season, was back at December levels. Comments founder Guy King: "There is definitely an increased use of coupons across the board."

The other side of the coin is that retailers are making more coupons available as they see consumers keeping a tighter grip on their purses.

Declares Boal: "Coupons move products off the shelf. That is their No. 1 job."

Data sourced from Business Week (online); additional content by WARC staff