May 2, 2008, 12:00 AM

E-retailers offer rewards for rebates

Overstock.com, Sears and Wal-Mart are all vying for a piece of the tax rebate pie. The three retail giants are offering gifts and rewards for consumers who spend federal rebate checks on their e-commerce sites and in stores.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

Overstock.com, Sears and Wal-Mart are all angling for a piece of the rebate checks consumers will start receiving this month as part of the $168 billion federal economic stimulus package. The three retail giants are offering rewards and discounts for consumers who spend federal rebate checks on their e-commerce site and in their storess.

Overstock.com, No. 25 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites, will offer consumers a discount coupon, likely in the range of 7% to 10%, redeemable in a one-day event at Overstock, Geoff Atkinson, vice president of tactical marketing for Overstock.com says. The date hasn’t yet been determined, Atkinson says, but when the date is selected, Overstock will promote the event and coupon via e-mail, through its affiliates, and, most likely, on its web site.

“We think there will be a nice spike in spending over that two- or three-week period. It should be good for us as well as good for all retail, but we’d like to get our share and incentivize people to spend it with us, instead of spending it with other retailers,” Atkinson says.

Sears Holdings Corp., No. 7 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites, says it will offer a 10% bonus in card value to customers who convert their entire government stimulus checks into gift cards at Sears or Kmart stores. The gift cards can be redeemed from May 14 through July 19 at Sears, Kmart and Lands’ End retail stores, as well as online at Sears.com and Landsend.com.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced it will allow consumers to load any portion of their checks onto a Wal-Mart MoneyCard, a prepaid debit card, and will waive the fee usually charged for the card. The card fees can vary by store, but one Chicago store quoted a price of $8.64 to buy the card and $4.64 to load money onto it unless the customer is cashing a check. The cards are redeemable at Walmart.com as well as in Wal-Mart stores. Walmart.com is No. 13 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites.

As part of the federal economic stimulus program, the government will begin mailing rebate checks to consumers this month. Individuals will receive as much as $600, while married couples can get as much as $1,200.

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