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September 13, 2021

Cheap onions online coupon crashes Groupon India's website

It's not a phenomenon that will make you weep, but one popular online coupon for onions was the culprit in crashing Groupon India's website, according to Al Jazeera America.

The stampede of online traffic was for a week-long deal which offered 3,000 buyers a day one kilogram of onions for nine rupees ($0.14 USD). On September 5, the deal's first day, it sold out within 44 minutes. On September 9, the onions were sold out within seven minutes, which means that there must have been a least 3,000 users and more who were at their computers clicking refresh.

"The driver behind this is obviously fun. It was meant to generate excitement by selling onions at a knock-down price," Ankur Warikoo, chief executive of Groupon India, told AFP.

If there's anything to be said with how Groupon handled the deal, at least they were smart enough to put a cap on the number of coupons sold. We've all heard unfortunate tales of customers losing out because businesses are unable to keep up with the demand of online coupons sold.

It may sound silly that India's population stampeded over a bag of onions, but there's more to it than that. Onions are a popular ingredient in India, but this past summer onion prices skyrocketed and even cost as much as 100 rupees ($1.56  USD). These whopping onion prices are a national issue with the upcoming elections later this year and it wouldn't be the first time that onion prices have affected India's politics.

With the country hit by damaging monsoon rains and a shortage of onions, food stall owners have resorted to safeguarding their onions from thieves at night. And what's to say Canadians won't feel a price sting, especially since India produces 19 per cent of the global supply of onions?

While Canadians aren't as anxious about our country's economy, at least compared to the Americans, we've already been hit by rising food costs. On a typical month, Canadian families spend an average of $411 on groceries, but higher costs are making Canadians shop around and cutback on other expenses, according to a recent RBC report.

If it's some consolation, at least we can feel better knowing that our food prices aren't as high compared to other developed countries. Though it may be high time to consider buying groceries if you're shopping in the United States since they're still cheaper down south.

While India's residents know why the price of onions has gone up, the British are scratching their heads about at a mysterious 40 per cent price drop in their beloved Marmite, the food spread that you either love or hate. It's high time for bargain hunters to stock up on the dark brown sticky stuff sinking to three pounds for a large jar compared to five pounds, an all-time high that it hit in 2010. At least that stuff keeps better.

How much do you spend on groceries each month? What groceries have you bought recently that are more expensive?



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...