* Walmart gives up to 15 cents off vs 10 cents off in 2011
* Kroger extends gas promotion through December
* U.S. average gas price still below 2008 record high
* Hurricane Isaac damage to oil production seen as limited
By Jessica Wohl
Aug 29 Walmart is cutting gasoline prices by up
to 15 cents per gallon for drivers in 20 U.S. states who pay
with its cards in a bid to appeal to loyal shoppers hit by big
price increases at the pump.
Meanwhile, Kroger Co, the country's largest
traditional grocer, is extending its summer gasoline discount
promotion through the end of the year in 25 states after
customers said they wanted the program to last longer.
Walmart patrons paying with a Walmart MoneyCard or credit
card will save 15 cents per gallon from Aug. 31 through Dec. 24,
while others who use a Walmart gift card will get 10 cents off,
Wal-Mart Stores Inc said on Wednesday.
The promotion comes as Wal-Mart, the world's largest
retailer, tries to attract shoppers heading into the holiday
season. Last week, Walmart said it would bring back layaway a
month early, giving U.S. shoppers under economic pressure more
time to pay for holiday gifts.
"Our customer remains pressured from the economy," said
Walmart U.S. Chief Merchandising and Marketing Officer Duncan
Mac Naughton, echoing comments Wal-Mart made earlier this month
that shoppers' top concerns are jobs, gas prices and higher food
The latest "gas rollback," at more than 1,000 gas stations,
follows a similar 2011 program that ran for a longer period of
time and offered savings of 10 cents per gallon. Last year's
promotion ran from June 29 through Christmas Eve.
When gas prices rise dramatically, shoppers often make fewer
trips to stores and buy more on each visit.
Gasoline prices are not at record highs but jumped this week
as Hurricane Isaac threatened to batter the U.S. oil refining
belt. Any significant damage to refineries or extended outages
could push gas prices higher. Despite flooding in some areas on
the U.S. Gulf Coast there was no discernible damage to
refineries or offshore oil and gas platforms on Wednesday.
After Hurricane Katrina, a Category 3 storm, battered the
Gulf coast in 2005, U.S. gas prices jumped more than 45 cents in
a single week.
The average price for regular gasoline was $3.80 on
Wednesday morning, up from nearly $3.49 a month ago and $3.61 a
year earlier, according to AAA data. In July 2008, the average
price hit an all-time high of $4.11.
LATEST ROUNDS OF DISCOUNTS
Throughout the year, Walmart offers smaller gas discounts to
card holders at stations near its stores in 22 states run by
Walmart or Murphy USA. In most of those states, Walmart credit
card holders get 5 cents off per gallon year-round, while those
paying with a Walmart MoneyCard or gift card get 3 cents off.
Walmart, Kroger and other chains often try to woo shoppers
with lower-priced gasoline.
Under a promotion that started on May 27, Kroger is doubling
the number of points card holders can earn, allowing for
discounts of up to $2 off per gallon.
Kroger's promotion, which initially had a summer theme, was
set to end on Sept. 30 but will now run through Dec. 31, a
spokesman said on Wednesday.
Warehouse clubs Costco Wholesale Corp, Wal-Mart's
Sam's Club and BJ's Wholesale Club monitor prices at nearby
stations and try to match or undercut them to lure drivers.