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National Chains Offer Consumer Incentives

Wal-Mart, Sears Holdings and RadioShack are trying to build holiday traffic and stretch consumer dollars a bit further this year with two new programs.

Last month Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club wholesale club division began offering $10 memberships that would allow new families and businesses to shop in its warehouse stores for 10 weeks. The company hosted two weekend sign-up events last month, inviting consumers to sign up for the special membership package during regular club hours.

The warehouse club spread the word out about the offer with a newspaper campaign that also touted its USDA meats, $4 generic-drug program and its seasonal merchandise.

“We know we can easily demonstrate the value at Sam’s Club in just one shopping trip,” said Mike Turner, membership VP at Sam’s Club. “With a temporary 10-week membership we’ll be able to give those who sign up a good chance to see what we can do for them everyday, and through the holidays.”

For its part, Sears Holdings has begun offering VenJuvo’s Trade4Credit program to shoppers. Trade4Credit allows consumers to earn Sears store credit in exchange for trading in pre-owned electronics that have been determined to still hold value.

The program, which offers free recycling and shipping, will accept a variety of electronics including iPhones, digital cameras and camcorders, MP3 players, GPS systems and gaming systems.

To use the service, consumers log onto, select the category of item they wish to recycle, and enter specifics about the device so the system can calculate an estimated trade-in value.

RadioShack has launched a similar program through CExchange that allows customers to trade in a wide array of used portable electronics via an online interface at in exchange for a company gift card. “We know that consumers are looking for innovative ways to save money, and we think this program will help them stretch their dollars in time for the holiday shopping season,” said merchandising executive VP Peter Whitsett.

Separately, Sears Holdings’ Kmart division is promoting its layaway program, available in select stores, and has announced that it will continue to offer the service during the holiday season.

Certain limitations apply, including a $200 ceiling on CE products. Also, all “limited supply” items placed in layaway must be picked up by Dec. 5.

The company is encouraging customers to shop for their holiday gifts early and to take advantage of the program as a way to pay for them in installments leading up to the holidays.