The Piggly Wiggly supermarkets being sold are phasing out their Greenbax rewards program, and the chain is discontinuing its partner merchant agreements in the Charleston area where Greenbax are redeemed for gift cards or merchandise.
The seven stores in the Charleston area being sold to Harris Teeter stopped issuing Greenbax on Monday. The 22 stores throughout South Carolina and coastal Georgia being acquired by Bi-Lo will stop issuing the rewards Oct. 14, according to a Piggly Wiggly memo.
The dates generally coincide with planned inventory reduction sales at the supermarkets.
Greenbax are acquired when customers shop at Piggly Wiggly stores. One Greenbax equals one dollar, according to the grocer’s website.
Greenbax can be used to buy special sale items at Piggly Wiggly, exchanged for store gift cards or redeemed for gasoline at three Piggly Wiggly Fuel Express Centers near Folly Beach, Ladson and Greenwood, all of which are being sold.
Customers will be able to redeem Greenbax until the last day the supermarkets operate as Piggly Wiggly stores. For stores not being sold and independently owned locations, the Greenbax program is not changing, according to the memo issued Friday.
The Charleston-based supermarket chain also notified Mount Pleasant Towne Centre and Tanger Outlet Center in North Charleston this week that it is ending its partner merchant program as of Friday.
“As of the close of business on Oct. 4, Piggly Wiggly will discontinue its partner merchant program for all of their Charleston partner merchants,” according to a notice sent to Tanger.
Customers will be able to redeem Greenbax for gift cards at the two shopping centers’ service desks through the close of business Friday. After that, Greenbax cannot be redeemed at either location.
Gift cards acquired through redeemed Greenbax at both shopping centers do not have expiration dates, according to spokeswomen at both sites.
A Piggly Wiggly spokesman did not respond to a call and email seeking comment Tuesday. An email sent by Piggly Wiggly to Towne Centre said the merchant program is being discontinued because the supermarket operator will “no longer have a concentration of stores servicing the Charleston area.”
Since Piggly Wiggly announced Sept. 12 that it is selling the 29 stores and closing two others, Tanger and Towne Centre have experienced significant increases in Greenbax redemptions.
“Our Greenbax redemptions for September year over year are up over 1,044 percent,” said Erin Engebritson, marketing manager at Towne Centre. “In September we have redeemed more Greenbax than we did for all of 2012. We just want people to know they have until Friday so they can redeem their Greenbax.”
Penny Benton, general manager of Tanger, said Greenbax redemptions at the North Charleston shopping center tripled in September over last year.
“We think a large part of that is that people are aware the buyout is coming,” she said.
The loss of the Greenbax program isn’t expected to greatly affect Tanger’s overall business.
“We have so many other reward programs that it will have a minimal impact,” Benton said.
The Charleston area will be left with four corporate-owned Piggly Wiggly stores — in North Charleston, Hollywood, Moncks Corner and St. George — after the sales to Harris Teeter and Bi-Lo.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.