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Kroger’s family of stores kicks off annual Red Kettle campaign

BY Allison Cerra

CINCINNATI — Kroger’s family of stores, which includes 2,468 supermarkets and multidepartment stores in 31 states under two dozen local banner names, once again has kicked off the Red Kettle campaign in support of The Salvation Army.

The Red Kettle campaign enables The Salvation Army to assist 30 million Americans in over 5,000 communities across the country, Kroger said. Each year, Kroger customers and associates provide food, clothing, toys and social services in the communities where funds are raised. In 2009, Kroger customers and associates contributed $11.3 million to the campaign, which represents 8% of the record $139 million raised nationwide.

"The annual Red Kettle campaign lets our customers and associates make a real difference in the lives of their neighbors in need, one small donation at a time. We value our long-standing partnership with The Salvation Army and the impact the campaign makes in the communities we serve," said Lynn Marmer, group VP corporate affairs for Kroger.

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Alec Baldwin stars in Wegmans commercials

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Wegmans recently tapped Alec Baldwin for a series of holiday commercials this year, in part because his mother is a loyal shopper of the popular East Coast supermarket chain.

According to published reports, Wegmans approached Baldwin after an appearance on "The Late Show with David Letterman." Baldwin explained to Letterman that his mother wouldn’t retire to California because she wouldn’t leave Wegmans.

The two commercials to have aired to date both highlight value and personal service available at Wegmans.

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Black Friday weekend: A boon for retail industry, NRF finds

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — This Black Friday weekend proved to be a help to retailers, as shopper traffic and spending both increased, the National Retail Federation said.

While 212 million shoppers visited stores and websites this weekend, up from 195 million shoppers last year, the average shopper spend totaled $365.34 this weekend, a 6.4% increase from last year. Total spending reached an estimated $45 billion, NRF said.

What’s more, NRF revealed, Black Friday shopping began earlier, as midnight shopping increased — among those surveyed — to 9.5%, triple the amount of shoppers last year. By 4 a.m., nearly one-quarter (24%) of Black Friday shoppers already were at the stores. Thanksgiving Day openings also have been a boon to the industry, as the number of people who shop on Thanksgiving — both online and in stores — has doubled over the past five years, from 10.3 million in 2005 to 22.3 million in 2010.

As far as where shoppers headed this weekend, both department stores (52% this year versus 49.4% last year) and clothing stores (24.4% versus 22.9%) saw healthy increases in traffic, while the percentage of people who shopped at discounters declined 7.2% to 40.3% this year. Similarly, online shopping saw a boost this weekend, rising 15.2% to 33.6% this year — a strong sign heading into Cyber Monday, NRF said.

“While Black Friday weekend is not always an indicator of holiday season performance, retailers should be encouraged that a focus on value and discretionary gifts has shoppers in the spirit to spend,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “As retailers look ahead to the first few weeks of December, it will be important for them to keep momentum going with savings and incentives that holiday shoppers simply can’t pass up.”

NRF’s Black Friday weekend includes Thursday, Friday, Saturday and projected spending for Sunday.

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