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Target unveils new pharmacy incentives

BY Jim Frederick

MINNEAPOLIS Target unveiled changes in its rewards program for customers who shift their prescription drug needs to one of its more than 1,580 in-store pharmacies.

On Thursday, the chain unveiled a change to its pharmacy rewards program, in line with broad enhancements to its full-scale store loyalty program, REDcard. “Beginning this fall, guests will receive a coupon good for 5% off a future day of shopping every time they fill five prescriptions at a Target pharmacy with a Target REDcard,” the company announced.

The new program marks a change in Target’s incentive efforts, cutting the storewide discount but also cutting in half the amount of prescriptions required to claim the discount. Currently, customers get a coupon good for 10% off a future day of shopping every time they fill 10 prescriptions at a Target pharmacy with a Target REDcard.

The new incentive, however, may be eclipsed by the simultaneous launch of the company’s expanded, storewide REDcard program, under which customers “will receive 5% off at check-out every day when they use a REDcard at any Target store or on Target.com,” according to the company. That program also launches in the fall, following a test in Kansas City that began in October 2009.

“Guest response has been overwhelmingly favorable, leading to meaningful incremental sales and profits,” Target noted in a statement June 3. “The response has been particularly strong among our existing better and best retail guests.”

Target predicted the expanded REDcard program will add roughly “one percentage point to comparable-store sales and have little to no impact on consolidated earnings” in the fourth quarter of this fiscal year, and will lift comp-store sales one to two percentage points in 2011.

“We believe guests will appreciate the simplicity and compelling value of this program, which will lead them to choose to shop more often at Target,” said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and CEO. “As a result, we expect this new program to drive profitable incremental sales, which will more than offset the cost of providing this everyday discount to our cardholders.”

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‘Positive traffic and a strong finish’ aid May sales for Fred’s

BY Allison Cerra

MEMPHIS, Tenn. Discounter Fred’s noted a 5% rise in its fiscal sales for the month, which ended May 29.

The chain said sales totaled $141.5 million, up from $134.9 million in May 2009. Comparable-store sales for the month rose 3.5%, compared with an increase of 0.2% in the same period last year.

Fred’s total sales for the first four months of fiscal 2010 increased 3% to $613.1 million. On a comparable-store basis, year-to-date sales increased 3.5% on top of an increase of 2.1% in the same period last year.

CEO Bruce Efird said, “We are pleased that May comparable-store sales came in at the upper end of our expectations, highlighted by positive traffic and a strong finish before the Memorial Day holiday. This performance reflected a number of positive factors, including good results from our May advertising circulars, solid comparable-script growth in our pharmacy department and continued success with the new sales-driving initiatives we are implementing this year. Despite economic uncertainty and high unemployment, the sales momentum building thus far in 2010 positions Fred’s well to capitalize on our customers’ desire for savings, selection and convenience.”

Fred’s operates 670 discount general merchandise stores, including 24 franchised Fred’s stores in the southeastern United States.

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Sandoz closes Oriel Therapeutics deal

BY Alaric DeArment

PRINCETON, N.J. Sandoz has acquired privately owned U.S. drug maker Oriel Therapeutics, the generics arm of Novartis said Thursday. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Sandoz said its purchase of Oriel would give it access to such drug-delivery technologies as FreePath and the Solis disposable dry-powder inhaler, itself based on FreePath technology.

“The closing of the Oriel Therapeutics acquisition is an important milestone in our aspiration to a global leadership position in differentiated, high-value respiratory products,” said Don DeGolyer, president of Sandoz’s U.S. division. “We welcome the Oriel employees into our organization and look forward to our ongoing work together to strengthen Sandoz’s position in the respiratory market.”

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