Supermarket chain says it is trying to encourage people to start saving for the festive season
August is not yet over but Christmas has come four months early at Asda, which has opened a string of Santa’s grottos at stores across the country.
The supermarket chain said the grottos were designed to encourage people to start saving for the festive season. Staff dressed as elves have been handing out Christmas savings cards.
A spokeswoman explained: “The grottos are just a bit of fun as part of promotion for our Christmas savings cards. Our research shows that a lot of people are already starting to put money away for Christmas.”
There are grottos in 17 of Asda’s 540 stores around the country, but the supermarket group said they would stay open only until the weekend.
The cards allow customers to save up to £144 on each card, but they can have more than one. Asda will pay a tiered bonus if the money stays on the card until 18 November. For savings of £144, the bonus is £6; for £97 it is £3 and for £49 customers will receive an extra £1. The bonus is loaded automatically on to the cards overnight on 18 November.
Last year, customers saved an average of £74 per card. About £750,000 was loaded on to the gift cards each week, rising to more than £1m between October and Christmas. These savings resulted in Asda paying out more than £1m in bonuses to its customers. So far this year it has seen the same pattern of savings. With Britain back in recession, Asda expects people to save even more this Christmas.
Research commissioned by the supermarket chain showed that almost half of mothers were more worried about the cost of Christmas this year than in 2011. While nearly a third have already started saving for the festive period, almost one in four will be spending less this year. Rising prices and stagnating wages have eaten into household budgets.
Sainsbury’s and Tesco do not have Christmas savings cards, but Tesco customers can request to have all Clubcard vouchers sent to them at Christmas, rather than spread across the year.