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A Canadian Tire store in Levis, Que., on May 9, 2011.Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

One of Canada’s biggest retailers is using customer data mined through its loyalty program and credit cards to drive sales and counter the potential impact of rising prices on demand.

Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd. CTC-T said Thursday it is focused on attracting and engaging rewards members to gain insight into shopping habits and shape sales through promotions.

The company’s emphasis on its rewards program underscores the growing value of personal data in the highly competitive retail environment.

It also highlights the increasing sophistication of in-store and online promotions that specifically target sales to increase spending.

“In addition to the rich first-party data we can mine through our Triangle Rewards loyalty program, our Triangle credit card provides critical insights into our customers and their preferences and shopping behaviours,” Greg Hicks, Canadian Tire president and CEO, said during a call with analyst to discuss the company’s quarterly results.

“Our ability to engineer demand with our high-low programming across all banners has us being much more relevant,” he said. “We feel prepared to address any concerning shifts and spend behaviour at a customer level.”

Canadian Tire raised its dividend by 25 per cent as it reported its first-quarter profit and revenue rose compared with a year ago.

Comparable sales at its Canadian Tire retail business grew 4.5 per cent, with automotive, hockey and winter categories leading the way.

The company’s Mark’s banner saw comparable sales gain 17.1 per cent amid stronger sales of industrial footwear and jeans while SportChek stores gained 10.2 per cent on higher winter sports and apparel sales.

Overall, Canadian Tire reported net income attributable to shareholders of $182.1-million or $3.03 per diluted share, up from $151.8-million or $2.47 per diluted share a year earlier.

Revenue for the quarter ended April 2 totalled $3.84-billion, up from $3.32-billion in the same quarter last year.

On a normalized basis, Canadian Tire said it earned $3.06 per diluted share, up from a normalized profit of $2.57 per diluted share a year ago.

The retailer said it will now pay a quarterly dividend of $1.625 per share, up from $1.30 per share.

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