January 3, 2012 / 4:23 PM / 6 years ago

Groupon shares drop on concern about merchants

(Reuters) - Groupon Inc shares fell more than 7 percent on Tuesday on concern the company may not have as many daily deals to offer as some merchants pull back.

Susquehanna Financial Group and daily deal industry tracking firm Yipit surveyed almost 400 merchants recently about their experiences running daily deals with Groupon, LivingSocial and other providers.

An average of 8 out of 10 merchants enjoyed working with daily deal companies, the survey found.

However, it also found that 52 percent of the surveyed merchants are currently not planning to feature deals in the next six months. Nearly 24 percent of the merchants intend to feature only one deal in the next six months, the poll also found.

Groupon shares were down 7.4 percent at $19.10 during afternoon trading on Tuesday, below the company’s initial public offering price of $20.

Last year, Groupon completed one of the largest Internet IPOs since Google’s debut, but the Chicago-based company’s business model has been questioned by some analysts.

A crucial part of the company’s business involves persuading merchants to run deals and accept the large discounts that are integral to the offers.

“Our proprietary merchant survey highlights concerns of the daily deal sites and early read implies lower usage over the next six months, despite some surprisingly high satisfaction rates,” Herman Leung, an analyst at Susquehanna, wrote in a research note detailing the survey results.

Groupon and LivingSocial recently unveiled instant deals, which are location-based offers that are usually run by merchants for a few hours only.

The survey by Susquehanna and Yipit found that only 10 percent of merchants polled have considered running an instant deal with Groupon or LivingSocial.

Reporting by Alistair Barr, editing by Dave Zimmerman

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