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Kroger rolls out more fuel bonuses for holiday gift card shoppers

BY Alaric DeArment

CINCINNATI In recognition of the holiday season, Kroger will double fuel discounts on gift cards purchased at its stores starting Saturday and ending Dec. 31, the supermarket operator said Thursday.

Gift cards for restaurants, stores and entertainment outlets purchased at Kroger stores will accumulate fuel discounts at double their purchased value, earning 10 cents off for every $50 in gift cards. Customers at Kroger pharmacies will also earn fuel discounts on eligible prescriptions, earning 10 cents off per gallon of gasoline for every two prescriptions filled at a Kroger pharmacy.

The company is offering the program at several of its banners nationwide, including Kroger, Baker’s, City Market, Dillons, Fry’s, Gerbes, Hilander, Jay C, King Soopers, Owen?s, Pay Less, QFC and Scott?s.

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Sam’s Club plans store specializing in products for Hispanic shoppers

BY Jenna Duncan

NEW YORK Wal-Mart announced to its investors on Tuesday that it will revamp the Sam’s Club concept slightly to appeal to Hispanic customers and open a “Mas Club” store that carries a variety of products imported from Mexico, such as candy, meats, produce, seafood and other items.

The announcement was made on the second day of Wal-Mart’s investors’ meeting in Bentonville, Ark.

Sam’s Club president and chief executive, Doug McMillon, said that rethinking store concepts and reaching out to customers was crucial because while Sam’s Club sales numbers were growing, but membership is not.

The first Mas Club is slated to open in early 2009 in Houston. A separate, new membership program with be initiated for Mas Club, independent of Sam’s Club, the company said.

Sam’s Club is also testing smaller format “neighborhood” stores in some markets, the company said.

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Cheese gaining popularity in the snack category

BY Melissa Valliant

PLYMOUTH, Wis. More and more consumers are saying “cheese,” according to the NPD Group in Port Washington, N.Y. Their statistics show that 4.5 percent of the population is snacking on tasty wedges and slices, compared to 2.5 percent a decade ago. Cheese sales have skyrocketed 9.5 percent from last year’s figure of $779 million to this year?s figure of $853 million for the 52 weeks ending Oct. 4.

Major cheese manufacturers Kraft and Sargento are catching on. Sargento is using the holiday to encourage rising cheese sales. This season, Sargento will be selling holiday-shaped cheese cubes, including snowflake and Christmas tree shapes. Kraft has developed in-store, four- to twelve-foot long cheese displays and plans to include these cheese snacking centers in 1,000 of its stores by the end of the year.

“We feel cheese represents an untapped opportunity in terms of the overall snacking trend, but also because cheese is a wholesome snacking alternative,” Tyler Williamson, brand manager for Kraft’s cheese business unit said. 

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