Retail roundup: Groupon, Beverly Center, early Black Friday deals, Toys R Us and Gap
Coupon Christmas -- With "daily deals" a social phenomenon online, don't be surprised to see a coupon under your Christmas tree this year.
Hunky no more -- Sad news for shoppers who like a side of beefcake with their shopping (and who doesn't?). The Beverly Center has announced that it won't feature a Hunky Santa at the mall this year. Instead of the six-pack St. Nick, the Los Angeles shopping center will transform into a winter wonderland with the debut of an "Ice Palace" that will feature holiday snow globes and highlights from the upcoming movie "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader." The exhibit will run from Nov. 12 to Dec. 24.
Early deals -- Sears is giving consumers an early helping of retail madness, delivering its "Black Friday Now" promotion weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday. Target is also joining the parade of retailers that are getting a head start on Black Friday. The discounter announced that it will roll out its pre-Thanksgiving four-day sale starting Sunday, Nov. 21, offering deals on more than 170 items.
Loyalty programs -- Toys R Us is giving members of its loyalty program, Rewards R Us, 10% back on purchases made in stores and online this Christmas season. The 10% back bonus amps up the program's usual offering of five R Us Dollars for every $150 spent during select earning periods. The toy seller said Rewards R Us members will be invited to attend exclusive "member shopping events," during which they will have special access to in-store sales. They are also among the first to be notified when stores receive shipments of in-demand items. The bonus will be available from Halloween to Christmas Eve.
Apparel giant Gap Inc. announced that it has launched online shopping to customers in nine additional European countries. Customers in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Sweden, the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy can now shop Gap and Banana Republic from the brands' European sites (http://www.gap.eu/ and http://www.bananarepublic.eu/).
-- Andrea Chang