Meijer: Gift Cards Go Toward Necessities
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. As economic concerns grow, consumers getting gift cards this holiday season are more likely than ever to use them for needs such as gasoline and groceries, rather than gifts for themselves, according to gift card redemption data from grocer Meijer.
“We saw this trend begin earlier this year when gasoline prices spiked,” said Rob Fleener, VP of marketing for Meijer. “In a tough economy, many consumers who receive gift cards are choosing to use them for items they really need, rather than splurging on a gift for themselves.”
While gift card sales industry-wide have generally remained flat, many consumers are shifting their gift card purchases away from specialty retailers toward retailers that offer a broader number of items. This trend is most evident at retailers such as Meijer, which sells groceries and gasoline as well as toys and apparel.
According to a study released last week by America’s Research Group and UBS, fewer people are buying gift cards. The study indicated about 44% of shoppers are not buying gift cards this year, compared with 26% last year and about 27% in 2006. However, so far this holiday season, gift card sales at Meijer have been on the increase, bucking the national trend.
“This increase for Meijer is clearly based on the flexibility of a Meijer gift card and the ability to purchase a variety of items with the card,” said Fleener. “Just as the use of Meijer gift cards shifted toward gasoline purchases at the peak of gasoline prices last summer, we anticipate a continued increase in the use of gift cards for grocery purchases as economic conditions remain strained.”
Kohl’s, Forever 21 win bid for 46 former Mervyn’s stores
MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. Kohl’s and Forever 21 won a joint bid for the leaseholds of 46 former Mervyn’s locations valued at approximately $6.25 million.
Kohl’s will assume 31 of the locations while Forever 21 will assume 15, pending approval by the court overseeing Mervyns bankruptcy proceedings.
“We are pleased with the results of the auction,” said Kevin Mansell, president and ceo for Kohl’s Department Stores. “With over 1,000 stores from coast to coast, these locations provide increased presence in under penetrated markets. We will continue to be opportunistic and prudent in our discussions with the owners of select Mervyns real estate as we continue to position Kohl’s to grow market share.”
In fiscal 2009, the Kohl’s said it continues to expect to open approximately 50 stores, including the majority of the 31 former Mervyns’ locations.
Bazaarvoice appoints new CFO
AUSTIN, Texas Bazaarvoice, which provides social commerce applications that drive sales, announced that Ken Saunders has joined the company as CFO. Saunders has over 25 years of experience as a senior financial executive at companies including Open Solutions, Peregrine Systems, Fair Isaac Corp. and Arthur Andersen. In his new role at Bazaarvoice, Saunders will guide all aspects of the company’s financial operations, as well as lead the team responsible for day-to-day finance, IT and human operations.
“Bazaarvoice is not only the most innovative social commerce company in the industry, it’s the fastest growing, serving hundreds of major brands worldwide and adding more at a very rapid clip,” said Saunders. “As CFO, I look forward to working with Bazaarvoice’s executive team to drive the company’s growth now and into the future, as they continue to transform the way people interact and shop online.”
“Ken has a wealth of world-class financial experience at both private and public companies, and we’re thrilled to welcome him to the executive team as Bazaarvoice continues to cement its market leadership in the social commerce space,” said Brett Hurt, founder and CEO of Bazaarvoice. “As more and more retailers worldwide embrace the customer voice as a key brand and marketing tool, Bazaarvoice is poised for rapid growth – and Ken is the perfect person to lead our company’s financial strategy.”