Originally Published as Gift Cards Most Requested Gift for Fifth Straight Year on Technorati
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), about 58% of adults would like to receive a gift card this holiday. This marks the fifth straight year in which gift cards are the most requested holiday gift according to NRF’s lastest consumer spending report. Total spending on gift cards this year is poised to reach $28.79 billion, with the average person spending $157 this year on gift cards alone, the highest figure since the NRF initiated the survey 10 years ago.
In terms of what outlets these gift cards are for, the same survey revealed that the largest number are for department stores at 39%, followed by restaurants at 33%, bookstores at 21%, coffee shops at 18%, discount stores at 14%, grocery stores/gas stations at 13%, and online retailers rounding it out at 11%.
“Retailers are pulling out all the stops this year to make their gift cards personal, convenient and desirable,” stated NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Savvy shoppers know they can purchase a much appreciated gift card with ease either in store, online or through their mobile device, and give their loved ones the option to buy something they really want or need.”
And because retailers are not allowed to count gift cards until they are actually redeemed, retailers are going to be ratcheting up the post-holiday sales come January to try and entice consumers into redeeming their cards. This also happens to be the time when most retailers are also re-stocking inventory from the depleted holiday shopping, offering gift card holders a bigger selection of new items to choose from.
The Problem of Unused Gift Cards
And if you happen to still have gift cards left over from previous years, you’re not alone. TheWall Street Journal estimates that between 2005 and 2011, $41 billion in gift cards went unused. According to most state laws, unused gift cards are considered ‘abandoned’ property. And states make millions each year by requiring merchants to turn over unused gift card dollars to them under the guise of returning this ‘abandoned’ money to gift card purchasers.
While there are suggestions from the NRF and other consumer groups on the use of gift cards, the problem still persists as many people end up with gift cards for outlets they don’t want, or shop at. In cases like this, there are sites like www.coupontrade.com where unused gift cards can be traded for one another, or even turned into cash by selling them. This secondary gift card market has exploded over the past 5 years, with CouponTrade.com revealing that around $5 million has changed hands since they launched back in June 2011.
Most gift cards can be sold for about $0.90 on the dollar, and sellers have the opportunity to choose their own asking price according to CouponTrade.com CEO and co-founder George Bousis. “By developing an innovative marketplace technology to support the growing secondary gift card market, it’s our goal to help people put those funds to better use and boost the economy one happy customer at a time.” This also ensures that gift cards actually get used, and don’t end up in the hands of state governments instead of being utilized by consumers.
CouponTrade.com also displays the gift cards that are in the most demand, the ones with the biggest discounts and allows customers to shop by category, retailer, price, amount of discount or whether it’s physical or electronic. As of December 14th, the gift cards in the most demand are for Starbucks, followed by Walmart, Kohl’s and Amazon. The gift cards with the largest inventory on the site were for Lands End, restaurant.com, Macy’s and iTunes respectively.
To start buying or selling gift cards, you can visit www.coupontrade.com.