Groupon grew while major rival shrank in November-Yipit
* Groupon gross billings up 6 pct in November-Yipit
* LivingSocial gross billings declined 5 pct in Nov-Yipit
* Thanksgiving dented industry growth, Yipit says
By Alistair Barr
Jan 4 (Reuters) - Groupon Inc's (GRPN.O) main business grew in November as the largest daily deal company extended its lead over rival LivingSocial, according to estimates released on Wednesday.
Groupon's gross billings totalled $154 million in November, up 6 percent from the $145 million it collected in October, Yipit estimated.
LivingSocial's gross billings declined 5 percent to $52 million in November, versus the previous month, Yipit also estimated.
Gross billings are a closely watched measure of how much money Groupon and other daily deal companies collect from the offers they run with merchants. A chunk of this money is shared with participating merchants and excluded from revenue.
Groupon saw strong growth early in November, but gross billings dropped sharply during the Thanksgiving holiday period as fewer subscribers were at their computers to check the company's daily emails, according to Unaiz Kabani, data product analyst at Yipit.
"It wasn't a great month but it could have been much worse," Kabani said.
LivingSocial's gross billings also dropped during the Thanksgiving break, despite a slew of national deals run by the company around the crucial Black Friday shopping period, Yipit added.
Amazon.com's (AMZN.O) daily deal business, AmazonLocal, generated $5.8 million in gross billings in November, down 6 percent from October. That was the first monthly decline since Amazon got into the business last year, Yipit noted.
Google's (GOOG.O) daily deal business, Google Offers, generated $3.5 million in gross billings in November. That was up from October, helped by national deals run with large merchants including outdoor gear and clothing company REI, according to Yipit.
Yipit tracks the daily deal industry and aggregates offers. However, the firm does not track instant, location-based deals run by Groupon and LivingSocial. These mobile businesses are relatively new and small compared to the companies' main daily deal services.
(Reporting by Alistair Barr; Editing by Bernard Orr)
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