HIGHLAND, Ind. -- Strack & Van Til reports a 26% rise in greeting card sales as the result of expanded departments and its consistent promotional efforts throughout the year.
Jim Johnsen, health and beauty care and general merchandise supervisor, also attributed part of the growth to the increasing demand for alternative cards. Sales for the alternative segment have soared 50% at the chain.
"At some stores we expanded alternative cards from 4- to 16-foot sections and at others it went from 8- to 12-foot sections," said Johnsen.
"The manufacturers are able to react faster to trends and current events and happenings, and come out with cards that fit these situations."
Strack & Van Til constantly highlights the card department by running an array of promotions.
In one promotion, for example, a customer purchasing several cards was given $1 off the total card transaction, or received a 5-ounce, $1.29 box of mints free.
"We've done the same at Valentine's Day, with small packages of chocolate-covered cherries and solid chocolate hearts that retailed at around $1.50," said Johnsen.
Christmas card customers who purchased a three-card selection received a free children's Mickey Mouse or Santa Claus wrist watch, a 99-cent retail value.
"We promote our card departments forcefully all year. At our warehouse stores we've given out a three-pack of bar soap free with any three cards."
Johnsen said running promotions in cards can stimulate multiple purchases and higher average sales. "Promoting the department can motivate a customer, who normally would buy one or two cards, into purchasing three.
"When we promote free-card offers at holidays or seasonally at May and June, customers are free to purchase cards for any other occasion." Johnsen maintains greeting cards are an especially underdeveloped general merchandise category at supermarkets, and one "that lends itself to promotional opportunities that can make consumers aware the category exists.