Giving gifts during the holiday seasons or for the annual special occasions has become an important part of the American social life. Friends, family and relatives always expect to receive something from you during certain holidays, occasions and anniversaries. And just as gifts have become a necessity so has the gift shopping sprees. It takes awesome amount of time and effort to choose and buy all the gifts you need in one year. Sometimes, you are just too busy to go shopping for your friend’s birthday and that is where retail gift cards come in.
Retail gift cards offer you a solution in terms of fast, easy and cheap gifts that most of your recipients will appreciate. You just go to your favorite retail outlet, one that the recipient also frequents, and buy a gift card for a particular amount. The gift card is sent to the recipient with no shipping charge. When the card is received, the beneficiary simply goes to the retail store and selects goods worth the amount prescribed by the gift card. Not only is it easy and cheaper to send retail gift cards, it is also very functional since the recipients can purchase those items they really need, and not what you guess as appropriate. They can select their favorite colors and appropriate sizes without you having to worry about which color or size to buy.
The problem however, is that gift cards have become too popular and available that most recipients rarely cash them. The National Retail Federation estimated that over $26.3 billion worth of retail gift cards were used in the US in 2009 while over $8 billion more were bought and never used. That means that American retailers sold over $8 billion of goods that were never collected, pure business profit for them. A 2008 Consumer Reports Survey showed that over 27% Americans had 2007 gift cards and over 51% had 2006/2005 unused retail gift cards.
This therefore necessitates that you be cautious of the retail gift cards you buy and send to your friends, family and relatives since most may end up being a waste of money. So, how do you ensure that your gift cards are spent or are worth the money you hand out at the retail outlet? How do you ensure that the gift cards you give are actually used by the recipients? The first step is to ensure that you but your gift cards from the right place. While retail gift cards can be bought from almost any retail outlet these days, very few are actually useful.
Buying a gift card from your local grocery store and sending it to another state is a foolhardy for instance. You will be better advised to buy cards from major retail chains like the Home Depot, gap, Bed Bath, Beyond etc, who have many branches nationally for your recipients to cash in their cards at. The same should be applied in choosing malls, restaurants, salons etc. Ensure the availability of the same retailer in the cards destination.
Ensure that you buy gift cards for particular products that your recipient uses. A salon gift card will be useless for your brother. Ensure that the card recipient regularly goes to the retailer’s shops. Again, do not give disorganized people a gift card since they will most probably lose it before they use it. If you are unsure about the card, send in cash, which also gives total freedom to the spender. These simple steps will ensure that your retail gift cards are not a waste of money.