Tax rebates spur retailers to offer special promotions - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Tax rebates spur retailers to offer special promotions

SPOKANE, Wash. - A number of the nation's big box stores are competing for a piece of your tax rebate with rebate specials - stores like Staples, Wal-Mart and Sears. 

Not only are they offering special deals, but several stores are taking it one step further: offering what almost amounts to free money.  Some retailers are offering customers who use their rebate checks to buy gift cards an extra ten percent.  Sears has put the plan into action, while Lands End, K-Mart and Albertson's and Kroger are offering similar deals.  Wal-Mart is planning to announce its rebate program within days.

The Bush Administration is hoping recipients will spend the money and jumpstart the slumping economy.  But many Americans dealing with soaring gasoline and food prices say they plan to save the money, invest it or pay off debt. 

A recent survey conducted by Goldman Sachs seemed to back up that notion.  More than one-third of those questioned said they expect to spend about a quarter of their rebates on basic items such as meat and paper products.  They also plan to use up to 60 percent of the rebate to pay down debt.

Despite those good intentions, economists say it's still hard to overcome the desire to spend. 

Whether the rebates are enough to jumpstart the economy or prevent a recession is unclear.  But what is clear is that by borrowing money to issue the rebates, the government is taking a gamble.  If consumers don't spend it the economy could be in deeper trouble.

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