The volume of gift vouchers used by the public has dropped 30-35 percent compared to this time last year. Until the collapse of supermarket chain Clubmarket, the vouchers were popular Rosh Hashanah gifts from employers and labor unions.
A survey by Vaadim, which monitors the activities of labor unions and human resource departments, reported the sharp drop after Clubmarket's nosedive and the failure of other retail chains to honor the doomed chain's vouchers. Trade in the vouchers has dropped 25 percent compared to Passover 2005, another popular gift season.
The survey revealed that 35 percent of labor unions decided not to buy shopping vouchers for members for this Jewish New Year, and preferred to give a different gift in conjunction with management, such as a check or physical product.
The survey was conducted after supermarket chain Supersol, which has bought out the defunct Clubmarket, decided to honor Clubmarket vouchers at 50 percent of their value. Vaadim also discovered that other retail chains that partnered with Clubmarket on the Extra Tav vouchers, including Home Center, Sakal, Steimatzky, Arkia, Castro, New Pharm, Fox, Kitan, El Al, Polgat and Opticana - are not honoring the vouchers.
Vaadim CEO Yaacov Alouche said the contractual relationship between Clubmarket under its new owners and the retail partners has not yet been formalized, so the other chains are continuing their policy of not honoring the vouchers. The public is thought to hold NIS 40 million in Extra Tav vouchers.
Alouche recommended that the Bank of Israel begin to regulate such vouchers and appoint a watchdog to regulate the sector. "Such a regulator could examine the financial stability of companies seeking to issue vouchers or to trade in them," he said.
Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chair Michael Eitan (Likud) proposed an amendment to the Consumer Protection Law requiring businesses issuing more than NIS 100,000 in vouchers to deposit a bank guarantee with a consumer protection watchdog. Under the bill, violation of the law would constitute a criminal offense.
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