Christmas in July

If you ever wanted a figure to illustrate the inefficiencies of gift-giving, here it is:  According to the Wall Street Journal, Americans annually spend about $65 billion in gift cards, of which $6.8 billion are never redeemed.

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3 Responses

  1. Bruce Boyden says:

    Yesterday’s All Things Considered ran a story about states collecting this money as “abandoned property.”

  2. ohwilleke says:

    The uses still get $58.2 billion in gifts. At an average of perhaps $50 per gift card, 1.164 billion gifts were made with about 44 cents each of shipping instead of a much higher amount if the gifts were mailed “in kind” (probably at least the $4.95 per package of priority mail’s minumum rate, and often much more). Postage savings alone alleviate almost all of the the non-use losses.

    More importantly, nearly 100% of what is spent with the gift cards given is actually wanted. I sincerely doubt that “in kind” gifts, particularly where tradition that gifts must be surprises, are so efficient.

    Moreover, the cases where gift cards are bought when postage is not an issue are those where the risk of buying a useless gift are highest, because a gift card gift from a near at hand donor usually means that the donor doesn’t know what the recipient wants to receive.

  3. Jake says:

    Ain’t freedom wonderful? All the more so when no one tries to superimpose legal implications on the act….