Retailers Add, Extend Money Transfers

MATTHEWS, N.C. Harris Teeter is adding Western Union Money Transfer services to its over 150 stores throughout North and South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida. The rollout began late last month and the retailer said it expected to complete the project early this month. Publix Super Markets, Lakeland, Fla., also signed a five-year renewal agreement with the financial services company

MATTHEWS, N.C. — Harris Teeter is adding Western Union Money Transfer services to its over 150 stores throughout North and South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida.

The rollout began late last month and the retailer said it expected to complete the project early this month.

Publix Super Markets, Lakeland, Fla., also signed a five-year renewal agreement with the financial services company late last month.

Through the agreement, Western Union will continue offering its money transfer services at all of Publix's nearly 900 locations throughout Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.

With a large Hispanic population in Florida and a large amount of Hispanic immigrants moving to Southeastern states, “Western Union is a core service to offer in those areas,” said Jim Wisner, president, Wisner Marketing Group, Libertyville, Ill. “A lot of first-generation immigrants use Western Union to send money internationally.”

Publix, however, positions the service as just another added convenience for customers, said spokeswoman Maria Brous. “It's not about demographics, it's a service for our customers and it does well in our stores.”

Western Union said its customers are people who need to send money quickly. “Certainly immigrants sending money home to friends and loved ones are an important part of our customer base. However, our domestic business is also thriving with consumers sending funds within the United States for both emergency purposes and regular support,” Sherry Johnson, spokeswoman for Western Union, told SN.

No matter who is using it, Western Union is a value-added service for supermarkets, Johnson said. “Customers appreciate the ability to send money and make bill payments in the places where they work and shop on a regular basis.”

Western Union services have proved to draw new business to supermarket retailers, as well as give existing customers another reason to return and provide stores with additional revenue opportunities, Johnson said in reference to both Publix and Harris Teeter.

“Harris Teeter is always looking for new ways to enhance the shopping experience for its customers,” said Fred Morganthall, president, Harris Teeter, in a statement announcing the launch. Harris Teeter did not respond to calls from SN and did not provide financial details in its public statement.

The five-year signing of Publix extends an existing agreement. Publix initially introduced Western Union Money Transfer services in a pilot program with 16 store locations in Atlanta and Miami in 2001, expanding to all stores shortly after.