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Nielsen finds consumers are less worried about rising gas prices than in 2008

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — Consumers today are a lot less skittish about rising gas prices than they were in 2008, Nielsen reported.

“Unlike 2008, when the average price for regular gas jumped above $4 a gallon, today’s improving job market and strengthening economy are helping consumers cope better than during this recent economic downturn,” wrote Todd Hale, SVP consumer and shopper insights for Nielsen, in a report released Thursday.

Trip compression, however, continues to dominate as a key strategy for 67% of households looking to save on high gas prices. And while this level is down from 2008 levels (78%), it is up four percentage points from last year. Additionally, nearly half of consumers (46%) will continue to seek lower-priced gas stations and eat out less (45%), and more than one-third (36%) said they will shop closer to home to offset high prices at the pump. Coupon clipping also is part of the gas-price offset strategy for 36% of households in 2011 — up four percentage points from 2008.

Also in decline were saving strategies consumers deploy to lower costs: 21% said they are shopping more at supercenters, which is down eight and five percentage points from 2008 and 2010, respectively. Currently, 12% said they are buying larger economy sizes — down four percentage points, compared with 2008 and 2010 — while 10% said they are shopping at warehouse clubs — down three percentage points from 2008 and 2010.

More savvy shoppers are taking advantage of incentive programs linked to grocery spending to buy gas; 28% of consumers said they are using their grocery shopper loyalty cards to save up to 10, 20 and 30 cents on a gallon of gas by redeeming points at participating gas stations. This savings not only is helping to take the pain out of the pump for consumers, but it also is helping to drive traffic for retailers.

To access the report, click here.

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NRF launches advocacy campaign to preserve swipe-fee reform

BY DSN STAFF

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation on Wednesday launched a 60-day lobbying, grassroots and media campaign aimed at ensuring that a new federal law — which is designed to save retailers and their customers more than $1 billion a month by lowering the “swipe fees" banks charge to process debit card transactions — takes effect in late July as scheduled.

A provision in last year’s Wall Street reform bill is designed to reduce the fees by an estimated 70%, saving about $14 billion a year, which retailers plan to pass along to their customers through discounts or other benefits. The credit card industry, however, is spending millions to delay the reform.

“Congress concluded last year that swipe fees have been driving up prices for consumers by far too much for far too long,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Now that Congress has done something about these fees, retailers are standing by to pass the savings along to their customers through lower prices and higher value. Our job over the next two months is to ensure that swipe-fee reform takes effect as planned and consumers get to enjoy all the new benefits.”

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Weis updates website with social media aggregator

BY Michael Johnsen

SUNBURY, Pa. — Weis Markets on Thursday announced a revamped home page that features a section of the grocer’s social media updates. The idea to make the change was borne out of Facebook polls and online customer feedback.

The new social media aggregator at SocialMedia.WeisMarkets.com compiles all of Weis’ official social media outlets into a single, easy-to-read page. This section gives a quick overview of the company’s latest Facebook posts, with the number of fans and pictures of its fans; the latest tweets from Twitter; and the retailer’s YouTube videos.

“Customer input through social media helped us improve our site,” stated Brian Holt, Weis Markets’ director of marketing. “Thanks to their input, we’ve made our site easier to navigate and added a new social media section that allows us to connect with our customers in a more personal way.”

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