Gift certificates, or rather their high-tech new replacements. gift cards (certificates in the form of credit cards). are America's most popular present. They spare gift-givers the strain of choosing anything specific. and recipients the horror of having to keep the result. Retailers like them too, because they are quite profitable. But like most goods in the recession, they have become harder to shift, prompting some radical redesigns.
Gift cards are profitable because retailers receive money for them up from, and around 10% of them are never redeemed (收回), according to Lew Paine of the GFK Group, a market-research firm. When people do use them. they often spend more than the amount given. on products with highmargins.
But sales of gift cuds were down by around 6% last year in America, to about $25 billion, partly because discounts in stores were so steep that customers naw more value in buying merchandise directly. Bankruptcies among retailers also scared people away from gift cards, for tear that scores would not be around to honour them. Some financial-services companies that offer gift cards which can be used in various stores, including Visa and American Express, came under fire for charging monthly maintenance fees on unspent balances.
Analysts expect another tough holiday season for gift cards this year. Sales will be down by about 5%, projects Archstone Consulting, which studies the business. Retailers arc trying to counter this decline by making gift cards more attractive. One approach is fo add nifty(俏皮的) packaging. Target, for example，is selling gift cards that double as wind-up toys or play recorded greetings. Other retailers have launched schemes that let people e-mail one another electronic gift certificates, which the recipients can then print out for use.
Some retailers have even given gift cards away in an effort to drum up business. Neiman Marcus. for example, sent $50 gift cards to prolific customers to entice them back for further sprees. Target will give a $l0 gift card to people who spend $l00 before noon on the Friday after Thanksgiving, which is considered thestart of the holiday shopping season. Such handouts can be cheaper than sha~p store-wide discounts. which proved devastating to profits last year. Expiry dates add a sense of urgency, which retailers are eager tofoster.
But many customers also have a crafty streak. Bargain-hunters are flocking to eBay and other websites to buy discounted, second-hand gift cards for their own use. eBay is thought to sell around 100,000 gift cardsevery month. PlasticJungle.com and other sites where people sell unwanted gift cards at discounts, as highas 40% are one pan of the gift-card business which has boomed of late.
1. One of the reasons for the popularity of gift cuds lies in that gift-givers don't have to worry about______________________.
2. What's che drawback of gift cards when the economy is in recession?
3. Some companies that offer gift cards were severely affected last year because_________.
4. How do retailers respond to the decline of sales of gift cards?
5. Retailers gave om handouts to promote consumption. but their efforts turned out__________.
1.[scoosing anything specific/shoosing gifts]
2.[They are harder to shift.]
3.[they charged monthly maintenance fees on unspent balances]
4.[By making gift cards more attractive.]
5.[to be devastating to profits]