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I bought them as gifts too. I copped out and gave gift cards as presents for Christmas. Not a lot - just enough to make me part of the problem. I don't recall when it started. People who track stuff like this, say the gift card phenomenon began about 5 years ago. We mindlessly marched to retailers and bought these dumb, dumb gifts. Is it a gift at all? Is it the best gift choice? No & no. Gift cards can never replace the actual "in your hand" gift. Gift cards are nothing but a promise of a gift - as soon as the recipient gets off their butt and goes shopping. This requires much more effort than just ripping off wrapping paper. You have to drive to the store, park, walk in, walk the aisles, make a decision, stand in the checkout lane, walk back to your car & drive home again. That's 8 steps in all - that could've been avoided if you had only selected a gift. Any gift at all would bypass the whole process. Best gift choice? Not by a long shot. Gift cards require you shop a particular store. Of all the shopping choices there are - you must make a trip to Big Earls Supply - because someone gave you a Big Earls Gift card. Does Big Earl have something you want? Maybe - maybe not. Maybe the gift giver loves Big Earls and you wouldn't be caught dead in the place.
The retailers themselves are bellyaching about the way business is changing because of gift cards. No longer is there more shopping BEFORE Christmas. The real shopping begins after Christmas with all the gift cards being redeemed. The stores find it difficult - when all the cash comes in early and the merchandise itself goes out late. Often gift card shoppers find the gift they want is in short supply because all the other gift card people got there first.
There is only one real solution. Cash. Think about it. Cash is the original gift card. You can take cash anywhere and redeem it like a gift card. You are not restricted to any particular store. You can even use it on the street with a man selling stuff out of the back of his truck.
Retailers will be happy. The books will balance when the cash in - equals the merchandise out.
Cash - is a gift card with every store logo in the world - printed on the front.