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Winn-Dixie and other retailers swap big savings to gain loyalty

Just when you thought another reward card couldn't fit in your wallet, here come some more.

Winn-Dixie this week unveils a new type of reward card that shaves a nickel per gallon off gas off purchases at most Shell and Circle K stations in the bay area for every $50 spent at the supermarket chain.

The grocer's Fuelperks card, good for up to 20 gallons per gas purchase, accumulate. So spending $100 at Winn-Dixie is worth 10 cents a gallon; $200 is worth 20 cents off and on and on.

"We just had a customer spend $500, which got her 50 cents a gallon just to start," said Mark Tunstill, a Winn-Dixie store manager in St. Petersburg.

By "to start," he meant shoppers save an additional 5 cents a gallon for buying any of the 20 two-for-one and bargain-priced specials promoted weekly in Winn-Dixie ads. Buying them all would save a customer $1 a gallon more at the pumps.

"We're hoping it drives up our gas volume 10 to 15 percent," said Kerry Katchuk, president of Risser Oil, local Shell distributor.

Shoppers must replace their old Winn-Dixie rewards card with a new one that keeps a running tally of every penny they spend at the store. Swipe it at the gas pump card slot at participating stations to confirm the accumulated total, which can pile up for a month.

What's behind this avalanche of store rewards and cash-back deals ranging from Brooks Brothers to Nordstrom to Target? In today's tenuous economy, retailers are more willing to buy customer loyalty for a return visit, permission to track their buying behavior and to distract from prices.

Even Ikea, the Swedish furniture and housewares giant that has avoided discounts, launches its first Ikea Family card Sept. 12 in Florida.

Benefits include 20 percent discounts on a list of 20 to 25 furniture products monthly, 10 to 15 percent off a similar number of housewares in the first-floor marketplace and special deals clustered in a new Family Zone department.

Members also get free coffee, tea, frozen yogurt and 30 extra minutes for their offspring in the kids play area every time they shop a store.

The chain unveiled its new catalog last week and sells online.

"But the discounts are only available in stores because our founder wants people to shop there," said Monica Valera, Ikea store manager in Tampa.

Liquidation sales explained : The math driving a liquidation sale is simple: manage discounts to move the best stuff first at the highest price and dump the dregs last at the lowest price. A recent dealnews.com study of the Borders bookstore liquidation shows how it works. The consumer advice site found 19 of 25 books it priced cost more the first week of the liquidation sale than before it started. Tracking an earlier wave of Borders liquidation sales in February they found prices didn't get to 80 or 90 percent off until the sixth week.

Coming attractions: The Container Store has struck a deal to open its first store in the Tampa Bay area.

A Fort Lauderdale developer filed to rezone 3.1 acres at the southwest corner of West Shore Boulevard and Spruce Street in Tampa for a Container Store that would open in 2013.

Meanwhile, Whole Foods Natural Market confirms its second bay area store will open in late 2012 at 3802 Northdale in Carrollwood. The chain plans to move into a rebuilt 36,000 square foot office building.

Winn-Dixie and other retailers swap big savings to gain loyalty 08/08/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 2:42pm]
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