The tightening economy has taken it’s toll on the restaurant industry this year, with the National Restaurant Association forecasting 2008 sales to fall 1.2 percent from last year. The holiday season typically gives restaurants the chance to make incremental sales through gift cards. But many establishments met the same challenges retailers faced this holiday season—shoppers simply spent less. So some savvy restaurants implemented purchase incentives to help cash in on holiday gift card sales, such as Chevys Fresh Mex and Applebee’s, who gave away $10 bonus cards with every $50 gift card purchased.
Not only does this strategy help the restaurants sell more gift cards, but it also attracts two additional diners—both of whom will presumably spend more than the amount on the cards. And the gift cards, which will most likely be redeemed in January or February, will help the restaurant industry boost business during a quiet time of year for most eateries.