MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Legions of shoppers took to stores Monday (the day after Christmas) to return unwanted gifts, deplete the balances on gift cards and look for post-holiday deals.
According to the National Retail Federation, eight out of 10 people planned on gifting at least one gift card this holiday season. And at Gander Mountain in Lakeville, some gift card recipients used them to pick up something they wanted.
Let’s face it: Getting the perfect gift for a friend or relative is hard. That difficulty is evident in the following statistic: 10 percent of holiday sales are expected to be returned this year.
Scott and Elle Greenslit, of Farmington, waited in the long customer service line at Gander Mountain to return something they didn’t want: a space heater one size too small.
“My mom got me the little one, and the bigger one was one sale, so I might as well get the bigger one,” Scott Greenslit said.
Other people at the store, such as Norm Dahl of Minneapolis, just didn’t quite get what they wanted.
“I’m kinda particular about what I want,” Dahl said. “When someone gets me something that kind of fits the bill, I’ll exchange it and get what I want.”
To save friends and family holiday disappointment or a wait in such a line, shopper turn to gift cards. Gift card sales were projected to top $100 million this season, according to the financial consulting firm TowerGroup.
That projection is a 10 percent increase from 2010.
Mike Williams, the store manager at the Lakeville Gander Mountain, said that gift cards give uncertain shoppers a bit of flexibility.
For many, a trip to the store with a gift card is treat, and thanks to a law passed in 2008, gift cards last longer. Prior to that law, companies would delete the credit on the card after a certain time period – say, a year.
On the other hand, it is estimated that about $2 billion in gift cards go unused.
So what can you do with gift cards that you may not want?
There are websites that buy gift cards and sell them for a discounted price. You won’t get the card’s entire value, but you will get something.