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Spartan Stores expanding Fuel Rewards program

BY Alaric DeArment

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Supermarket operator Spartan Stores and gas station operator Speedway are expanding a fuel-discount program to all of Michigan, the companies said Wednesday.

The two said the expansion of the Fuel Rewards program to additional Spartan stores would allow customers to leverage their food and fuel budgets. Spartan operates 97 stores in Michigan under the D&W Fresh Markets, Family Fare Supermarkets, Glen’s Markets and VG’s Food and Pharmacy banners and also distributes private and national brand products to more than 375 independent grocers in the Midwest.

Under the program, customers at the stores use their Yes Rewards card and earn fuel rewards based on their grocery purchases, such as a 5-cent-per-gallon discount on fuel for $50 in purchases. Supermarkets that have a Quick Stop Fuel Center nearby will issue Fuel Rewards for the Quick Stop center, while those without will issue a Speedway Fuel Reward. Spartan said the partnership would also allow it to extend the program to the independent grocers it supplies.

"Spartan Stores consumers are delighted with our Fuel Rewards partnership with Speedway," Spartan EVP merchandising and marketing Alan Hartline said. "Since we launched the pilot program, consumers have saved nearly $250,000 on over 1,7 million gallons of fuel sold at Speedway locations across the state."

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IBM: Mobile shopping doubles over holiday

BY Katherine Field Boccaccio

ARMONK, N.Y. — On Tuesday, IBM released its final benchmark announcement for the 2011 holiday season, detailing a continued strong performance for mobile, as well as an overall increase in online spending for December 2011.

According to the report, the U.S. online retail sector delivered 7.5% growth in December 2011, compared with the same period last year. This followed a strong November where both Black Friday 2011 and Cyber Monday 2011 delivered double-digit growth over 2010.

Other key findings of the IBM report included:

  • Mobile traffic experienced significant growth, as 14.6% of all online sessions on a retailer’s site were initiated from a mobile device, more than double the rate of 5.6% over this same period in 2010;

  • Sales from mobile devices doubled, reaching 11% versus 5.5% in December 2010;

  • Apple’s iPhone and iPad ranked No. 1 and No. 2 for mobile device retail traffic (5.2% and 4.3% respectively). Android was third at 4.1%; and

  • Shoppers using the iPad also continued to drive more retail purchases than any other device with conversion rates reaching 6.3% compared witho 3.1% for all mobile devices.

"This past December consumers remained committed to finding the best online deals whether through their PC or mobile device,” said John Squire, chief strategy officer for IBM Smarter Commerce.

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Report: Fresh & Easy to close 12 stores

BY Marianne Wilson

NEW YORK — Fresh & Easy is slated to close 12 underperforming stores.

The U.S. division of Tesco left open the door to reopening the stores at a later date, according to Orange County Register.

"At this time, there is simply not enough growth in sales and customers at these stores to keep them open. We will close these stores over the coming weeks and we will re-open them when economic and business conditions warrant," said Fresh & Easy spokesman Brendan Wonnacott in the report.

Fresh & Easy still is planning to grow in areas where it makes sense, according to Wonnacott. The chain plans to open at least 24 more supermarkets on the West Coast, including four in Orange County.

Of the 12 Fresh & Easy stores to be shuttered, nine are in Southern California.

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