FINANCE

Sales of Gift Cards Slump

BY CSA STAFF

Stamford, Conn. Results of the 2008 Holiday Gift-Card Survey, released on Monday, predict that consumers will spend less on gift cards in the 2008 holiday season and will likely shift their purchases to gift cards for necessity items such as groceries and gas, or small indulgences such as restaurants.

The survey, which was conducted by Archstone Consulting, Stamford, Conn., and evaluated the shopping habits of 1,000 consumers, concluded that gift-card sales would be approximately 5% lower this holiday season than last, dropping to $25 billion.

Additionally, the survey found that pre-paid bank cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are the most desired gift cards because of the flexibility they offer in purchasing options.

However, Dave Sievers, principal and the lead of the consulting firm’s Consumer Products and Retail Practice, noted, “Retailers can increase the purchase of their [branded] cards through the creative use of incentive programs, as approximately 50% of respondents said they would consider purchasing a gift card from a retailer if it comes with a coupon/discount for the purchaser or the recipient.”

The survey also determined that the restaurant/fast-food category would likely sell more gift cards than any other retail category this season and the bulk of any increase in gift-card purchases would likely be in the 13- to 24-year-old demographic.

Sales of branded gift cards at synergistic retailers is also expected to grow significantly this year, up 30% compared to 2007 sales.

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Now playing in Aisle 3: ‘Register to Vote’

BY CSA STAFF

BENTONVILLE, ARK. —As Wal-Mart prepares to rollout an aggressive advertiser-driven in-store media network, it is using its current in-store TV system to promote what is arguably a more noble cause than product promotion—namely, a get-out-the-vote campaign.

As part of the retailer’s efforts to engage both customers and associates, Wal-Mart will begin a non-partisan voter registration campaign next week with public service announcements on its in-store television network. The program is designed to encourage 136 million weekly customers, as well as 1.4 million U.S. associates, to register and vote in the November elections. The campaign will include two, 15-second PSAs, which will run through Election Day.

In the same vein, the company has begun hosting a voter registration portal on its corporate Web site, www.WalmartStores.com/Vote , and will put up posters with voter registration information at nearly 600 of its domestic Sam’s Club locations.

“Pollsters have found that our core shoppers—Walmart women—are an influential demographic in the upcoming presidential election,” said Leslie Dach, Wal-Mart’s evp of corporate affairs and government relations. “Our voter registration campaign is designed to encourage millions of customers and associates to register and cast their votes.”

Click here for coverage of Wal-Mart’s Smart Network.

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Trend Tracker: Framing the environment

BY CSA STAFF

Burnes is launching a line of photo frames made from sustainable materials. A percentage of sales from the line will be donated to Save the Earth.

The line’s reclaimed, “idle wood” frames—material recovered from old bridges, warehouses, factories and shipping pallets—include marks of wear to provide an authentically distressed look. They come in natural and walnut finishes and two crackled styles, chocolate/cream and grass green (pictured). The line’s plastic frames, which come in gold and bronze metallic finishes, are made from recycled materials that would have otherwise gone to landfills, Burnes stated.

Frames range in size from 4-inch by 6-inch to 8-inch by 10-inch and in MSRP from $8 to $25.

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