« Back to Previous Page

The Faith Consolo Team

Faith Hope Consolo
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker

575 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10022
Office: 212.418.2000
Mobile: 917.846.2407
Fax: 212.418.2005

MAKE AN APOINTMENT
email me »
vCard »

In the News

Lavish Luxury Retailer Perks

If you're shelling out more for your wardrobe than for your kid's private-school tuition, high-end department stores would like to say a special thanks.

Increasingly, retailers like Saks (nyse: SKS - news - people ) Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Barneys New York are rewarding big spenders with gifts cards and discounts on travel and entertainment packages. They are making nice with their best customers ... because they're hoping to keep them.

Jill Mosovich, a Palm Springs, Fla., retiree who works part-time as an executive assistant, belongs to two such programs--Nordstrom's (nyse: JWN - news - people ) Rewards and Bloomingdales' Insider. The latter sends her gift cards at the end of the year worth 3% of her total purchases over 12 months. She likes that just fine.

In Pictures: Poshest Retailer Perks

But she really likes invitations to special events. Last year, with discounted tickets, Mosovich took her daughter to the National Horse Show in Wellington, Fla. They also got to attend a formal dinner, where they met two ex-Olympian horsemen, who gave them a tour of the course.

"That evening, we met fabulous people from all over the world," says Mosovich. "It was a very special thing." Related Stories Insider's Guide To High-End Sample Sales

The World's Best Sales

Ritzy Rewards To lock in the loyalty of such shoppers, rival department stores are offering getaways to places like the Canyon Ranch spa; nice freebies, the Sony (nyse: SNE - news - people ) PlayStation 3 among them; and gift cards and invitations to special events.

Customers want more than cash back, says Ginger Reeder, vice president of communications at Neiman Marcus. "We like to think of our program as offering our customers access to the lifestyle befitting them: exclusive products, luxurious travel and unique experiences," she says.

Along with its sister store, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman offers membership to the InCircle program. Among the non-cash bennies: a visit to the offices of Vogue--where guests get a glimpse of the magazine's famous fashion closet--a scene right out of The Devil Wears Prada.

That insider's privilege doesn't come cheap. To qualify, you must be in the highest tier of the InCircle program, the Chairman's Circle, which requires accumulating 1,500,000 points a year. Since every dollar you spend earns one InCircle point, it's fair to say--even factoring in special "double point" days--that this trip to the magazine's dressing room could cost you around $1 million dollars.

But if you're like most shoppers, says Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of Prudential Douglas Elliman Retail Leasing, you wouldn't mind the extra money--even if you have to spend it at the store.

She says that Free Stuff from Barneys New York, which offers members a $700 gift card for every $14,000 in points earned, has changed the perks game.

"It has become a points war," says Consolo. "Barneys' Free Stuff gift cards not only bring the consumer back into the store, they spend 10% to 20% more."

Savvy Stores Retailers love these programs, because it's a cheap way to retain customers. Just how cheap is a jealously guarded secret, though Marshal Cohen, a retail industry analyst from marketing research firm NPD Group, estimates that it costs each retailer roughly $2.5 million per year to operate (including logistics, marketing and rewards).

Such programs certainly don't hurt. After Saks introduced its World Elite card last autumn, the retailer's fourth-quarter same-store sales jumped 9.9% from the corresponding period in 2005. They were up again in the first quarter of 2007, 14.4% higher than in Q1 a year earlier.

The perk wars are heating up. Nordstrom (nyse: JWN - news - people ) has long offered a cash-back rewards program, Nordstrom Notes, but unveiled a new one in April. Both programs allow you to earn two points for every dollar you spend at the store and on its Web site--2,000 points earns you a $20.00 Nordstrom gift certificate. But the Nordstrom Signature card also gives pre-approved members access to a concierge service that can book restaurant reservations, find VIP concert tickets and offer personal shopping tips at a moment's notice.

Just how special are these special programs--particularly if you have a wallet full of points-accumulating credit cards?

On the whole, they're a bit more generous than most options with plastic, and they allow you to get the benefits faster. For example: Spending $2,000 at Bloomingdales ups your Insider membership status by offering $60 in store gift cards (redeemable anytime), and you immediately earn special credits like $300 off of November's Crystal Cruises Food & Wine Festival, a 10-day trip featuring cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs, gourmet meals and a slew of wine tastings.

Spend the same amount with Visa Extra ... and they knock four bucks off your bill.

 

« Go back to In The News

575 MADISON AVENUE, NEW YORK, NY 10022. 212. 891.7000 © 2019 DOUGLAS ELLIMAN REAL ESTATE. ALL MATERIAL PRESENTED HEREIN IS INTENDED FOR INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY. WHILE, THIS INFORMATION IS BELIEVED TO BE CORRECT, IT IS REPRESENTED SUBJECT TO ERRORS, OMISSIONS, CHANGES OR WITHDRAWAL WITHOUT NOTICE. ALL PROPERTY INFORMATION, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO SQUARE FOOTAGE, ROOM COUNT, NUMBER OF BEDROOMS AND THE SCHOOL DISTRICT IN PROPERTY LISTINGS SHOULD BE VERIFIED BY YOUR OWN ATTORNEY, ARCHITECT OR ZONING EXPERT. EQUAL HOUSING OPPORTUNITY. DRE # 01947727