Unused Gift Cards Are The New Billion-$Dollar Business

The most-popular gift for 2006 holiday season, favored by 73% of shoppers, is clothing, closely followed by gift cards favored by 60% of shoppers, according to The Consumer Reports' Holiday Shopping poll. About 23.3 million Americans have unused gift cards from last year's holidays--that's at least $972 million in unredeemed cards. Indeed, 54% of respondents received gift cards for the 2005 holidays. Nearly a year later, 19% of the gift-card recipients have not used one or more of the cards received.
Other Highlights:
  • 71% of respondents will shop at discount stores such as Wal-Mart and Target and 62% said they would shop at department stores such as Macy's.
  • Among 39% respondents planning on buying online for the holidays, 72% are very or somewhat concerned about the security of their financial or personal information. 
  • 42% of respondents said they would opt to buy extended warranty coverage when buying home electronics or major appliances.

After clothing and gift cards, the top gifts for 2006 are toys (54 percent) and electronics (53 percent). Within the electronics category, video-game systems (21 percent), home video-entertainment systems (20 percent), MP3 players or iPods (19 percent), and digital cameras (18 percent) are the leading choices.

The most desired gift among men is electronics (21 percent); among women, gift cards (16 percent) are top, followed by jewelry (12 percent). Despite being the most popular gift for shoppers, in 2005 clothing was the most disappointing category of gifts received (36 percent)--the biggest offender was socks (11 percent).

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