The Case For Gift Cards
What do I want for Christmas? I dunno! Peace on earth, etc. So instead of reading tea leaves or forcing a list out of me under duress, do the really thoughtful thing: get me a gift card.
You could argue that a gift card is impersonal, that it's lazy, that it's a cop-out. Ridiculous! A gift card is the most personal present there is. It's the gift of freedom to buy whatever you want, whenever you want it. It's the gift that says "we're good enough friends/relatives/acquaintances that we don't have to force it." And there's a certain beauty in that.
What, you got your girlfriend an iPod Touch? That's something totally unique to her interests? You plumbed the depths of her soul to figure out she wanted it more than anything else in the world? Nah, it's just a popular doodad! It's safe, but it's empty. Gift cards are also safe, sure, but they're brimming with possibility, and the guarantee that she'll end up with something she loves.
And it's not like you're handing over cold hard cash (which, hey, nothing wrong there, either, but admittedly could seem crass in certain situations). Do you know their favorite restaurant? A gift card beats putting take-out under the tree. Favorite haberdasher? You could get 'em a scarf that they'll end up exchanging eventually anyway, sure. Or you could let them get what they really want, even if that something's not even out yet. I like movies! And I'd rather see them in the theater, for free, throughout the year, thanks to that gift card you got me. I'll pass on that Batman Blu-ray box set (because this one time I mentioned I like Batman but honestly I was just making conversation and really only meant the Michael Keaton ones and besides, honestly, Joel Schumacher should be strung up by the gizzard for what he did to that franchise RIGHT?). And so on.
When we were first talking about this, Kyle described gift cards as "pragmatic." Please. If anything, they're sincere. They say: If it's the thought that counts, I'm counting on you to think for yourself. To make Christmas come when you want it to, not when the calendar says. I respect you that much.
Also they're, like, a super easy last-minute gift, amIright? —Brian Barrett
10 Facts About Gift Cards
Gift card statistics abound as they become an increasingly popular gift and money-management method. Here are a few facts to share during your next cocktail party:
Gift cards have been the most requested item on holiday wish lists for the past five years.
Purchases made with a gift card are between 20% and 50% higher than the average purchase price.
Gift cards are the most profitable square foot of selling space at many retail sites.
Christmas is the top purchase occasion for gift cards, followed by birthdays and Mother's Day.
39.2% of shoppers will purchase a department store gift card for friends and family, followed by 33.4% of shoppers opting for a restaurant gift card.
The most common gift card amount is $25.
40% of gift card recipients do not use the full amount on their card, and leave an average balance of $2.30.
45.8% of shoppers say they give gift cards because they allow the recipient to select their own gift.
Between 2007 and 2013, $41 billion in gift cards went unused.
An average household holds $300 in unredeemed gift cards.
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