Gift Certificate

Today is called Cyber-Monday — a nonsensical media phrase to follow up the Black Friday shopping blitz. On line shopping has been growing rapidly the past 10 years, with 30-40% year on year gains.   

We also know gift cards have been huge the past few years around the holidays, This year, Amazon is making a big marketing push to create a mash up of the two: online Amazon gift certificates.

Mike, my freshman year college roommate, sent me the first Amazon gift subscription I ever received in 1997. Thanks to him, I’ve been a regular Amazon customer ever since.

Is an email with a dollar credit the same as a little plastic card 2 x 3 card? (I don’t know)


Amzn Gift Certificate


Also, I have updated the weekend retail round up with the following links:

Beware: Heavy store traffic doesn’t mean huge sales

U.S. Thanksgiving Spending Increases 19% on Discounts

Black Friday Breakdown (Scott Rothport, Street Insight)

Black Friday Turned Green at the Malls Before Dawn

Web sales down on Black Friday   

Shoppers slow pace after early frenzy          

Not as many Black Friday shoppers, but spending is up               

Traffic down, spending up in holiday retail debut 

Retail sales mixed at start of US holiday season;
(Car sales forecast to fall in 2007 to lowest since 1998)   

How Housing Slump Is Risk To Big Three Rebound

Holiday Sales Get Off to Solid Start, But Wal-Mart Doesn’t Share Cheer

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. Kris Tuttle commented on Nov 27

    We tried using Amazon to give employees gift certificates en masse one year and it was a disaster. Sometimes the emails would get lost and Amazon had no way to track down or resolve any of our issues. This was a few years ago and maybe their system is better but they were so unhelpful in working with us that we never considered doing it again.

  2. Barry Ritholtz commented on Nov 27

    That was part of my question: Can this substitute for the gift cards, which can be put into nice little envelopes, with Happy Holoday cards.

    My younger brother gives out Starbux cards by the 100s — mostly to his clients’ staff. Hard to imagine doing the same with a n on line gift certificate.

    I would use these to give gifts to people who are very difficult to shop for . . .

  3. Leisa commented on Nov 27

    I’ve had wonderful success in giving Amazon e-mail gift certificates. Nothing could be easier, but I have to admit, I’ve not done anything en masse as Kris points out. It is easy to give and easy to redeem. I’ve also done it with E-bay and

    I buy LOTS of books, and I Amazon get’s most of my book money (unless I’m foraging in the bargain bin at Barnes and Noble). Amzaon’s online prices are always lower than B&N’s.

  4. jjr commented on Nov 27

    Barry, it would be interesting to know whether there is any data that provides insight into how much of the retail numbers reported for Friday were the result of foreign purchases of final goods in the USA which will be exported outside the USA for use. In other words, with the dollar significantly weakened last week, foreigners had particularly strong buying power. Did they account for a significant amount of retail buying? How would one measure that? In NYC, the percentage of foreign retail business might be different from in Peoria. I am not sure this is even a measurable number, nor that it’s significant enough to measure. With a VAT, we perhaps would have access to some data based on applications for refunds as foreigners exited the country. Not to be taken as an opinion on value-added tax, rather just stream-of-consciousness.

    I’m struggling to determine how dollar weakness can possibly be a positive development for US equities, especially if they’re no longer rising in price. The dollar is becoming a very interesting story here, especially after the nasty few days it experienced to close out last week.

  5. jkw commented on Nov 27

    Anything bought with cash can’t be tracked. Purchases with checks can be tracked, but I don’t think anybody is willing to go through the effort. The credit card companies know the answer to who spent money. I suspect that they sell the aggregate data somewhere. They can tell you how stores are doing at least as quickly as the stores themselves can. With all their fraud protection algorithms, they notice any unusual spending right away. It would not be hard to use similar algorithms to determine how individual retailers are doing. However, they only know how much each person spent at each store. They don’t know what was bought or how profitable the purchases were.

  6. cm commented on Nov 27

    jkw: Yup, there are those paying at the checkout with crisp $100 bills. That doesn’t have to mean the money is not legit, but sometimes I wonder.

  7. cm commented on Nov 27

    And wasn’t Amazon named as one company deducting fees from their store cards? Not sure it applies to gift certificates.

  8. foo commented on Nov 27

    Gift certificates are a scam.

    I marvel at the success of these things. Guaranteed money to a retailer before they have provided any product or service. If you want to show some love, give cash (or send a cash transfer) with a nice note saying you hope they will treat themeselves to a book (or whatever).

    Show some love – give actual cash. Would you rather get $10 or a $10 gift card to Starbucks? Would your giftees think any differently?

  9. Rick commented on Nov 27

    I had shifted to buying books at sometime ago – they guarantee 10% discount to price!

  10. lr commented on Apr 10

    I’m not quite sure how you can say that gift certificates are a scam. First, if someone is having to mail it to me, I’d much rather have a gift certificate than cash. They’re tracable for any reputable company. No intelligent person would mail cash. Second, a gift certificate is much more personal, it shows that there was some thought put into the gift. They are, essentially, the same as cash.

    I don’t like that Amazon doesn’t have gift cards. I also don’t like that I can’t get them rush shipped.

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