Stores add rewards to gift registries
People with a wedding or a baby on the way can profit handsomely when well-wishers buy gifts.
Milestones such as getting married or having a baby aren't cheap. Of course, gifts help -- and more than ever, now that a growing number of retailers are offering registrants a kickback.
This month, Babies R Us became the latest to launch a registry rewards program, joining a number of retailers -- including Macy's, Bon-Ton, Target, and Bed Bath & Beyond -- that give a rebate or discount back to the registrants.
Macy's, for example, offers newlyweds a gift card worth 5% of the total value of registry items purchased, while Target registrants get a 10%-off coupon for items they wanted but didn't get. And Babies R Us offers expectant parents who are also members of the store's free loyalty club a $5 coupon for every $150 in purchases eager friends and families make from their registries.
These registry kickbacks are designed to encourage the engaged and the expectant to register in one or two places, instead of three or four, as has become common. For the retailer, there's quite a bit of money at stake.
Friends of an engaged couple spend an average of $70 on wedding gifts, while family members spend $129, according to planning website The Knot. For a baby shower, co-workers spend an average of $32; friends, $43, and family, $73, reports parenting advice site The Bump. Multiply that by the nearly 2.1 million weddings nationwide and 4.1 million births tallied by the National Center for Health Statistics in 2009, and it's not hard to see why retailers would trade a small rebate in exchange for a bigger share of bridal and baby spending.
The incentive rapidly adds up for the registrants, too. For a wedding with 150 guests and average spending of $100 apiece, the registered couple could walk away with roughly $750 in rebates, coupons or discounts -- and that's in addition to $15,000 in gifts and cash. "Whether or not a retailer offers a rewards program may be the deciding factor," says Kate Ward, site director of The Bump. Rewards also increase the likelihood that the customer will keep coming back.
The store gets guests' business, the celebrant gets a fat rebate, but what about the gift-giver? Event planners typically encourage consumers to spread out registries at several stores, precisely so that gift-givers have options. So, if you choose a store to register with because it offers an incentive, it's important to be especially careful not to let that influence the items you choose, says a spokeswoman for The Emily Post Institute.
That means not cavalierly selecting the $800 stroller or $400 kitchen mixer with a bigger rebate in the back of your mind. "You don't want a guest to open up your registry and cringe," says Post. And Babies R Us has taken it one step further: Gift-givers who join the store's loyalty program can earn rewards for buying items from a registry.
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