Overall, the recession has stolen gift card’s steam. Reduced consumer spending has extended to gift cards, but frugal shoppers are also turning to buying discounted gifts so they can stretch their budgets. Also troubling is that recipients will likely be stingy when they redeem them, focusing only on deeply discounted items, as they did last year.
"Gift cards' popularity hasn't died, but the recession has changed the way that people give gifts," said Craig R. Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, a retail consultancy.
Many savvy retailers are making sure they have fresh merchandise when shoppers return Saturday. Stores also say they're aiming to capitalize on a quirk of the calendar — a full weekend afte Christmas.
"Shoppers expect to find new deals after Christmas, but we wanted to make this weekend especially exciting," said company spokeswoman Melissa O'Brien.
Michael P. Niemira, chief economist at the International Council of Shopping Centers, says he's not sure how fast shoppers will redeem gift cards because there won't be mounds of holiday leftovers as stores slashed inventories.