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    Gas Stations Look to Increase Sales with Cash Discounts

    Creative campaigns launched nationally to offset pump prices.

    NEW YORK -- As gas prices climb to unprecedented levels, retailers are looking for any way to offset sticker shock and attract business, including offering discounts on cash purchases.

    Richard Bell, owner of the Market at Jodeco, located in Stockbridge, Ga., recently mounted a sign in the station reading: "Attention gas cash customers: FREE 16-ounce fountain drink or 12-ounce coffee with purchase of 10 gallons of gas or more."

    Bell told USA Today he is encouraging customers to pay with cash rather than a credit card. He concedes, however, it is an uphill battle because customers have more plastic on hand than cash these days.

    "[It] doesn't help that much," Bell told the paper. "We have only a few people take us up on it."

    Bell is not alone as more and more stations across the nation are launching similar campaigns. As gas prices climb, so are credit card fees which diminish what little profit remains from selling gasoline.

    "In our industry, we operate off a few cents per gallon profit. It's always been that way," Kent Couch, owner of two Stop and Go mini-marts in Oregon, told USA Today.

    Jeff Lenard, a spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores, told the paper promotions are a "sign of the desperation that retailers feel about
    their business."

    In an attempt to quell public perception that gas station owners are getting rich off higher prices, E&C Enterprises, which owns and operates 74 gas stations in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., is distributing brochures at some sites showing how much retailers must pay on each gallon of gas in credit card
    fees, taxes, oil production and refining, reported USA Today.

    Meanwhile, other industries are looking to profit from high gas prices. Companies like insurer Aflac launched a new advertsing campaign aimed at penny-pinching consumers.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, the commercial explains the company's supplemental insurance program that provides customers cash to pay expenses like fuel bills.

    The Journal News, a Westchester, N.Y.-based newspaper, has its salespeople distributing $20 gas card at area gas stations when someone signs up for a $234 annual subscription to the paper.

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