Who doesn't want to receive money to spend at one of their favorite stores? That's the concept behind the oh-so-popular gift card. But how many of those cards go unused?
This holiday season, spending on gift cards will reach nearly $28 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. They're predicting that 8 in 10 shoppers will buy a gift card. For the fifth year in a row, the cards remain at the top of costumer's wish lists. The General Manager at Herb Philipson's in New Hartford confirms those statistics. "There is an increase year after year you do see more going out," says Jeannine Petriski, "in bigger amounts also it used to be $10, 15, 20, now its $30, 40, 50 100 gift cards."
Sangertown Square was abuzz as people returned gifts, and used those gift cards. People Eyewitness News spoke with say while they can be impersonal, it's a good gift option. "If somebody doesn't know what you want, it's nice to get a gift card," says shopper Kevin Brannick. "Since the economy is kind of down its an inexpensive gift but it's something you can get for somebody and they can go get what they want," says Santo Sageer.
While the cards are sometimes the perfect gift, allowing consumers to pick anything they want, the cards hold a special advantage for retailers, as a fair number of gift cards are never redeemed. The NRF estimates that 10 to 19% of gift card balances are never used. And 41-billion dollars in gift cards have not been redeemed since 2005. "Maybe that's behind it too why they do push their gift cards thinking that people won't redeem so they come out in a win-win situation," says Don Libel, "when somebody gives you a gift and you don't take advantage of it you deserve to lose the money unspent."
But buyers beware. Some cards have expiration dates and card fees. The NRF suggests reading the credit CARD act, and knowing the difference between bank-issued cards and store-issued cards to fully take advantage of the gift. For details on the act and more information on gift card trends, you can visit the National Retail Federation's website: