As the COVID-19 health crisis persists, missed rent and mortgage payments are piling up across the United States. Many Americans are struggling to afford basic necessities, including their own housing — leading DSW to offer a helping hand.
This week, the shoe retailer announced that it would pay select customers’ mortgage or rent for a year as part of a new sweepstakes event. Any person who stops by their local DSW store through the end of the month will be able to enter to win a grand prize of $25,000 to be used toward their rent or mortgage payments, along with 10 secondary prizes of $2,000 each. (DSW expects to randomly select the 11 winners on Nov. 6.)
“Giving back has always been part of DSW’s brand DNA, and we know how difficult this year has been on everyone, which is why we wanted to do something special for our customers,” chief marketing officer Amy Stevenson told FN. “There’s a lot we could surprise our customers with; however, we wanted to provide them with something relevant and meaningful amid the pandemic. We hope that by offering the opportunity to pay people’s mortgage or rent for a year, DSW will help make a difference during these times.”
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It’s not the first time DSW has engaged in philanthropic efforts amid the coronavirus outbreak: Just ahead of the back-to-school season in July, the footwear chain introduced a campaign that allowed customers to nominate their favorite teachers for a chance to win $10,000 that would go toward funds for the school year. The prize also included a gift card worth one year of free shoes for the chosen educator.
In addition to honoring teachers, DSW also launched an Instagram contest in mid-August to recognize hardworking parents. It encouraged them to post their favorite or funniest memory of becoming an at-home teacher during the quarantine period. Throughout the month, the company revealed 50 winners who received free shoes for the whole family.
DSW has continued to give back even as its balance sheet has taken a hit due to the pandemic. Last month, the footwear and accessories retailer posted an adjusted second-quarter loss of $92 million, or an adjusted loss of $1.28 per diluted share, compared with market watchers’ estimates of a loss of 85 cents per share. Revenues for the three months ended Aug. 1 sank 42.8% to $489.7 million, while analysts forecasted sales of $596.46 million.
In a statement at the time, CEO Roger Rawlins suggested that the Columbus, Ohio-based chain would pivot away from dress, formal and special occasion footwear toward more comfort-driven styles in an effort to cater to shifting consumer preferences as many Americans remain indoors.
“We are flexing fall inventory receipts away from seasonal and dress products and towards our highest-performing category, athleisure, with an emphasis on comfortable and cozy products,” he explained. “We have the unique ability to pivot inventory quickly and follow the customer as needs and preferences change in the future.”
Update: This story has been updated to reflect a change in DSW’s contest terms. No purchase is necessary to enter the sweepstakes.