I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Unused Gift Cards

Amex points means free $50 gift cards!
(Photo: diaper -- no I'm not kidding)
I drove by Honda Cycles of Omaha the other day and I couldn't make eye contact with the place. I felt too guilty. In fact, I try to not even glance in its direction.

The building used to be the home of a ski shop and years ago a friend bought me a $10.00 gift certificate to use there. I never got around to it and now the business is gone. They took my friend's $10.00 and ran. I always hoped my friend wouldn't ask me what I got with the gift certificate because I'd have to admit I never used it. Thankfully, she didn't. Now I'm hoping she doesn't read this post.

As I pushed my guilt behind me and drove by the Honda building, I wondered how many gift cards go unredeemed each year. If I am guilty, then I know others are too.

A recent blog post on the Time magazine website says:
According to one study from not that long ago, some $6.8 billion worth of gift cards goes unused annually. In another survey, 27% of Americans said they still had gift cards they'd received last year but hadn't yet used.
A 2007 article in the NY Times says:
The financial-services research firm TowerGroup estimates that of the $80 billion spent on gift cards in 2006, roughly $8 billion will never be redeemed — “a bigger impact on consumers,” Tower notes, “than the combined total of both debit- and credit-card fraud.” A survey by Marketing Workshop Inc. found that only 30 percent of recipients use a gift card within a month of receiving it, while Consumer Reports estimates that 19 percent of the people who received a gift card in 2005 never used it.
So, between $6.8 and $8 billion worth of gift cards go unused each year and between 19% and 27% of people who received a gift card either never used it or never got around to using it a year later. Those numbers seem staggering to me, but I bet more people use gift cards than the gifts they receive at Christmas. I could be wrong.

But all of this non-use does make me wonder if the time and money we spend chasing gifts for one another at Christmas could be used more wisely.


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