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Gift Card Sales Up This Holiday Season

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

December 26, 2005

Shoppers scrambled for the mall today ready to cash in on those after-Christmas sales and put their shiny gift cards to use. It seems that gift cards are one of the most popular presents this year. They are easy to buy, simple to use, and a lot of shoppers just can't wait to spend them.

Just when you thought the shopping was over, here it comes again.

"I'm just coming to get some deals and using some of my Christmas money to purchase some things that I wanted for myself," said Carol Conley.

Last year, the week after Christmas accounted for 10 percent of holiday sales. This year that figure is expected to be as much as 14 percent. Why the boost?--gift cards.

"This year we anticipate a 6.6% increase overall for gift cards. That translates into 18 and half billion dollars," said Scott Krugman of the National Retail Federation.

On Monday shoppers lined up, plastic in hand. It seems almost everyone had either received a gift card or bought one for someone else. The rationale behind them is simple.

"I can get what I want, and not have to get something and just not [use it] and put in a drawer or something. I can go and get what I want and what I need," said Gift Card recipient Elizabeth Jones.

"I'd rather get what I want for Christmas, but money is kind of tacky so a gift card is so much better. And we gave gift cards this year too,"said Jackie Monticup

Now many retailers who were worried over the dip in holiday sales this year may still see profit after all. Shoppers say those markdowns make fighting the crowds that much easier.

"You got to get what you got get and if you have to fight to get it, oh well," said one shopper.

Although gift cards are easy to use, some actually depreciate, so the sooner you use them the better--economists expect about 20 percent of gift card holders to use them this week. Retailers are hoping those gift card sales are going to give them the boost that they need.

Some gift cards do expire, while others depreciate over time, so make sure that if you did receive a gift card, you get in contact with the person who gave it to you for all of that information.


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