Safeway is thought to be rolling out its ABC loyalty card into about 50 stores competing head on with Tesco, which launched its own Clubcard scheme last month. This would bring the number of Safeway outlets with the card to more than 70.
The company would not comment directly on the claim, but said: “We have been extending the card gradually, and have made it clear that we will be putting it into more stores over the next few months.”
Analysts and industry sources say the slow roll-out is in keeping with the chain’s tactical use of the card.
When Tesco launched Clubcard nationally, Safeway had the ABC loyalty card in 25 stores, mainly those in competition with other supermarkets or which were poor performers. The card was then introduced to three new London stores which opened in Camden, Brent Cross and Queensbury.
A leading retail analyst says: “We understand Safeway is to use the card tactically, and we have noticed an increased number of the stores offering the card.”
Another analyst says he is expecting more activity by supermarket multiples on their loyalty cards imminently. Asda is extending trials of its Club Card customer loyalty scheme and says it could go national with the programme at short notice (MW March 10).