Experts Say More Holiday Spending On Gift Cards, Less Overall - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Experts Say More Holiday Spending On Gift Cards, Less Overall

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WMDT 47 NEWS – With Christmas just over one week away, many shoppers are feeling the time crunch to get those last minute gifts before it's too late.

"The last week before Christmas I buy the gift cards," says Barbara Carmean, a shopper in Salisbury, Maryland. "Mostly for people I don't know what to get."

However, gift cards may be more than just last minute purchases this year. According to the National Retail Federation, gift card spending will reach an all-time high this year, with 80 percent of shoppers purchasing at least one.

"It saves people time and money coming back to stores to go and get what they actually want," says Galen Young, a shopper in Salisbury, Maryland.

"It's convenient, certainly easy to wrap and transport to the other person," says Professor Tylor Clagget Jr., a professor of finance at Salisbury University. "The receiver gets to pick what he or she really wants as opposed to what the other person thinks they want, so it does give them some flexibility."

While gift cards are a convenient purchase, some people worry they takes away the "personal" touch.

"It does makes you feel a little guilty, you feel like you should be giving people something more intimate," says Jackie Twigg, a Pocomoke, Maryland resident.

However, that may not be the case. The NRF reports that six of ten consumers want to receive gift cards this year, and the deals make this easy. The Local Restaurant Association (LORA) on the Eastern shore, has a holiday-exclusive gift card deal that applies to 19 local eateries.

"If you buy 100 dollars-worth, then you'll get a free $20 voucher," says Gary Kelley, vice president of LORA and General Manager of Viet Taste.

Many chain restaurants and department stores are offering similar deals. For instance, when you buy $50 in Applebee's gift cards, you can get a free $10 bonus card. Online websites such as CardHub also sell a variety of gift cards for less than face value.

But before you go crazy, there are some things to look out for.

Experts warn about mixing up gift cards with prepaid reloadable gift cards, because those cards may expire at any time. In addition, general-purpose gift cards, like those from Visa and American Express, also tend to charge various fees, but most store-issued gift cards do not do this.

"You have to be careful about the terms in which they are honored, it's the question of reading fine print," says Professor Clagget. "You can't be too cautious or have too much attention spent on the details."

When it comes to overall spending, the NRF predicts that the average shopper will spend will spend $737.95 on gifts, decorations, greeting cards and more, two percent less than last year. Experts say the decline has to do with consumers questioning the stability of our economy, our government, and even their own finances, but gift card deals may help with budgeting.

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