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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Budget standoff causes holiday caution

Echoing fears of businesses and consumers alike, Blackhawk Network, the prepaid card distributor and Safeway Inc. subsidiary, expressed concern about the economic fallout from the partial government shutdown. " [I]f not resolved, there is concern the current budget standoff could impact consumer spending or diminish some of the ongoing improvement in the overall economic picture," said Blackhawk President Talbott Roche in a conference call to discuss the company's third quarter 2013 earnings.

In the Seeking Alpha transcript of the Oct. 10, 2013, call, Roche said that, despite the economic uncertainty, Blackhawk is gearing up for the holiday shopping season. Roche noted Blackhawk has coordinated with its card and distribution partners for over 140 in-store marketing promotions and 45 digital marketing campaigns. "We have also secured themed holiday shippers and palette displays which will go into over 10,000 retail locations," she said. "We have had an encouraging first four weeks of Q4 and are cautiously optimistic for this year's holiday."

Roche stated that Blackhawk remains in a strong position, with its top 50 U.S distribution partners renewing their contracts with the company. Additionally, in advance of the holiday season, Blackhawk is ramping up card distribution via its newest partner, Home Depot. Roche said 600 Home Depot outlets now showcase Blackhawk's popular gift card malls, with almost 2,000 Home Depot locations to be outfitted with the "malls" by the end of November.

Roche also noted that Blackhawk is renewing its focus on the convenience channel via gas stations and racetracks. end of article

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