July 29, 2009

Retailers move to accept food stamps

The record number of U.S. consumers receiving food stamps has pushed a wave of new companies into accepting food stamp payments, retailers said.

This is the right thing to do, Joe Portera, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Costco's Eastern and Canadian divisions told USA Today Wednesday.

We'll ultimately need to expand the program to our other stores, so right now, we're working out any bugs in the system, Portera said.

In its latest quarterly report, Family Dollar said the government's Electronic Benefit Transfer system, the modern-day food stamp program, helped boost same-store sales 6.2 percent. The EBT spending at Family Dollar rose 18 percent from a year ago in March, representing a significant opportunity for us, Chief Executive Officer Howard Levine said.

Target, 7-Eleven and CVS are among the chains looking to expand opportunities for cash-poor customers to spend food stamp dollars.

The program helps meet the needs of customers ... in these challenging economic times, CVS spokeswoman Erin Pensa said.

About 39 million U.S. consumers received food stamps in April, up 20 percent from a April 2008, the newspaper said.