Marketers Chase Rebate Checks

14 Businesses Design Deals Hoping to Snag Some Government-Promoted Spending

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NEW YORK ( -- The checks are in the mail.

Economic-stimulus checks will begin hitting consumer mailboxes this week, and businesses large and small are champing at the bit. Across the country, businesses such as restaurants, hotels, supermarkets and motorcycle dealerships are bombarding shoppers with enticing deals in an effort to grab a piece of the action.

Most individuals are set to receive as much as $600, while couples qualify for $1,200 and parents can get $300 per child. Businesses are well aware of those figures, closely tying promotions to those amounts. Many are publicizing "free cash" incentives and offering check-cashing services.

In total, some 130 million consumers are expected to benefit from the $152 billion measure, which will place checks in consumers' hands between now and July. While many plan to save the money or use it to pay down debt, the National Retail Federation estimates that about $43 billion still will make it into the coffers of cash-starved local and national businesses -- in which case, all of the stimulus-themed marketing hoopla certainly could pay off.

Here are some examples of promotions from both large and small marketers trying to stimulate spending on their own products.
Ballweg, a group of auto dealerships in Wisconsin, is matching customers' stimulus checks up to $500.
Buell Motorcycles, a division of Harley-Davidson, is teaming up with Eaglemark Savings Bank to launch a program offering customers $0 down and 5.99% financing for up to 48 months on purchases of 2008 model Buell XB motorcycles.
Carrol's Creek, a restaurant in Annapolis, Md., is promoting a $29.95 fixed-price stimulus-package-theme menu.
Expedia is offering 30% off select hotels when they're booked as part of a package, encouraging customers to use their rebates to visit American cities.
Home Depot has partnered with U.S. Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) to encourage consumers to spend their rebates on energy-efficient products and services. The retailer is promoting its Eco Options brand as part of the program.
Kroger Co. is touting an offer of free groceries. That means the supermarket will add a 10% bonus to gift cards purchased in $300 increments when shoppers use their stimulus checks.
Monterey, Calif.-based Hotel Pacific is advertising a stimulus-theme package for $300 that includes a copy of "The Motley Fool Investment Guide."
RadioShack is offering 10% discounts on purchases of $50 or more when customers use their checks. The balance of the check will be loaded onto a prepaid MasterCard.
Dearborn, Mich.-based Rosenau Powersports will double stimulus checks to $1,200 if they are used to purchase motorcycles.
Sears Holdings, parent company of Sears, Kmart and Lands' End, will add a 10% bonus to checks converted to gift cards. The catch: The entire face value of the check must be spent with the retailer.
Staples created an Economic Stimulus Center to attract customers and their checks. Offers include $50 off purchases of $500 or more and $150 off furniture costing at least $1,000.
SuperValu grocery stores, which include Albertsons, Acme, Cub Foods and Shaw's, will be running a promotion through July 31. Customers redeeming checks for gift cards in $300 increments will get a 10% bonus.
Twenty-six hotels in Virginia Beach, Va., have teamed up to offer deals. The Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort, for example, is offering rates of $1,200 or less per couple for a five-night stay.
Wal-Mart is offering to cash stimulus checks free, no purchase required, and is rolling back prices on items throughout its stores.
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