The current economic conditions are forcing many of us to go out in search of deals and discounts as we look to stretch our money that little bit further. Online shopping has been steadily increasing over the past 3 years with predictions indicating that 2009 will be a record year for online profits. I’m not talking about retailers only; internet advertising is set to grow by 14.9% this year. How will this help you save money? First, the move to internet based sales allows retailers to store and ship stock from centralized locations saving money money on local facilities. shopping discounts should result in a lower cost to you, the buyer.

Another factor to be considered is that of competition. There are countless companies advertising their deals and discounts which make their stock the cheapest on the web. Many online stores will issue discount and voucher codes and make them freely available, either through an area of their own website or through a voucher code directory. How does it work? Simple, let’s say you’re looking for a discount code - look up the retailers name in your favorite directory, copy the code (or click the on-site link) and paste your voucher at the checkout to receive your saving. The voucher has a twofold effect: firstly, it is used as a way of enticing in customers who may look around for alternatives on a competitors site. Secondly, it also acts as a call to action - “Click here now to save 25%” - and has proven to be a very effective means of driving sales.

The rise of shopping comparison sites and discount code directories has not gone unnoticed by the major players; Google now provide price comparisons on goods when you use the search engine to find specific products. Websites that earn money from comparing prices on goods are also thriving - you can probably name at least five off the top of your head.

Surprisingly, there has been a negative effect. Many retailers issue their codes to niche websites in the hope that shoppers will buy not only the discount product but additional goods which bumps up the retail profits. Unfortunately, savvy shoppers have realized there are rich pickings to be made by finding a discount aimed at the exact product they want and buying only that item from the stockist. They then search for separate codes for additional purchases. This may seem like a time consuming way of working but it can save you a lot of money (hint!)

Most of you don’t think of the internet as the first place to go if you want to save money and I have to admit that by shopping locally you can pick up some great deals. But, in the main, simply searching the internet for phrases such as “discount codes” or “online deals” will throw up a massive selection of specialist websites catering to almost all of your needs.