The Kroger Co. is casting its net wider in the battle among retailers to lure extra dollars from shoppers during the U.S. economic stimulus effort, the Associated Press reports. Kroger operates Ralphs, Fred Meyer, Food 4 Less, Fry's, King Soopers, Smith's, Dillons, QFC and City Market stores.


The nation's largest traditional grocery chain was one of the first retailers to announce plans to give shoppers a bonus -- 10 percent in its case -- if they exchanged tax stimulus checks for store gift cards for matching amounts. Grocery competitors and other retailers are making similar offers.


A Kroger spokeswoman said Monday that the bonus is open to everyone, even if they haven't received a rebate yet and even if they don't qualify for one.


"We tied it to the economic stimulus, but it was just a good time to launch because we knew consumers would have a little extra money and we can help them stretch their grocery dollars," Kroger spokeswoman Johnna Reeder said Monday.

The chain had in-store promotions for the gift cards over the weekend.

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