Specialty retail gift-card redemptions up
Atlanta Gift-card redemptions in specialty retail stores grew 12.3% last week, a significant year-over-year increase, according to First Data Corp., a provider of e-commerce and payment processing.
First Data’s Holiday Gift Card Performance Report compared gift-card sales for the week ending Dec. 13 with the same period in 2008.
The increase in redemptions suggested that consumers are already using the incentive cards they obtained in the first two weeks of the holiday shopping season. For the first three weeks of the holiday season, the dollar amount of gift-card activations grew 1.7% over last year, consistent with the company’s forecast of 0 to 5% growth.
Overall, total dollar value of gift cards activated decreased 1.6% compared with last year. The number of gift cards activated decreased 2.7%. Gift-card redemptions grew 5.1%.
According to the survey, about three-quarters of gift -card purchasers indicate that they buy their gift cards within two weeks of the holidays.
Gift-card activations remain strong for the specialty retail category. The number of activations grew 12.6% and the dollar value of cards activated increased 5.2% over last year. More cards are being activated, but in smaller denominations.
Restaurant gift-card sales were down slightly for the week.
Kroger awards frequent shoppers with free minutes
CINCINNATI Kroger announced a first of its kind loyalty program that rewards frequent shoppers with free wireless service using the company’s own wireless phone service, branded i-wireless.
The free minutes rewards program enables customers to earn free airtime on their i-wireless phone, available exclusively at more than 2,200 Kroger stores nationwide, when they purchase groceries at the Kroger family of stores.
“The free minutes rewards program empowers customers to directly influence the amount they spend each month on their wireless service. The more they shop at Kroger, the more they’ll save on their wireless bill,” said Paul McAleese, CEOof i-wireless. “For loyal Kroger shoppers, free minutes enables i-wireless to deliver the best value in the marketplace today, making it an incredibly attractive option for the millions of shoppers that visit a Kroger store on a weekly basis.”
i-wireless customers that subscribe to a monthly rate plan or a pay-as-you-go plan will receive 20 free minutes of airtime for every $100 they spend in-store. Customers are notified via text message of their reward in an immediate fashion, often receiving the message by the time they reach the parking lot following their shopping transaction.
Former Wrigley CEO joins Whirlpool board
Benton Harbor, Mich. Whirlpool announced the appointment of William Perez, former president and CEO of Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. to its board of directors.
Perez was president and CEO of Wrigley from 2006 to 2008, when it was acquired by Mars Inc.. From 2004 to 2006, he served as president and CEO of Nike.