LOYALTY PROGRAMS' GROWTH SPOTLIGHTED AT GEMCON

NEW ORLEANS -- Card-based frequent-shopper programs displayed a remarkable growth rate in the past year, with the number of store units offering such programs increasing 32%, from 5,867 in the first quarter of 1997 to 7,753 in the first quarter of 1998, according to surveys.Despite the number of new programs popping up seemingly every week, however, only one-quarter of all U.S. stores currently employ

NEW ORLEANS -- Card-based frequent-shopper programs displayed a remarkable growth rate in the past year, with the number of store units offering such programs increasing 32%, from 5,867 in the first quarter of 1997 to 7,753 in the first quarter of 1998, according to surveys.

Despite the number of new programs popping up seemingly every week, however, only one-quarter of all U.S. stores currently employ customer loyalty programs. But 73.9% of retailers predicted their participation in

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