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Post-Holiday Retail Trends: More Than 1 in 4 Consumers Leave Half of Their Gift Cards Unused, While 75% Take Advantage of Post-Christmas Sales, New Report Finds

Online coupon site RetailMeNot.com this week released its last edition of the Shoppers Trend Report (STR) in 2012, revealing findings from a poll conducted by The Omnibus Company. The report finds that while 50% of consumers say they spend 100% of the gift cards or gift certificates they receive, more than 1 in 4 (27%) say they usually only use up to half of the value of those gift cards or gift certificates when shopping.

"Consumers are leaving money on the table by not using the total value of their gift cards," said Trae Bodge, senior editor of the RetailMeNot blog, in a news release. "End-of-year clearance sales after Christmas are the perfect opportunity to get some great last-minute deals."

According to the survey, the vast majority of consumers polled either sometimes, frequently or always (75%) take advantage of end-of-the-year sales. Only 7% of consumers say they never shop the end-of-year sales. Of consumers wanting to make a big purchase, 31% are waiting for the year-end clearance sales because they anticipate last-minute deals.

The Fate of Unloved Gifts

Did you ever wonder what happened to that ugly sweater from your Aunt Maude or that really "unique" piece of art you received from your eccentric brother-in-law?

According to the Shoppers Trend Report, only 31% of consumers polled would consider returning unwanted holiday gifts and 26% of consumers have "regifted" an item to someone else in their lifetime.

Other survey results

Of those who received gift cards or gift certificates, only half (50%) say they have used 100% percent of the gift cards they've received. Most consumers (69%) would not return unwanted gifts, instead choosing to store them, "regift" them or donate them to charity.

Key survey findings:

  • 38% of consumers sometimes shop end-of-year sales; 24% of consumers frequently shop during end-of-the-year sales and 13% always do.
  • Only 7% of consumers say they never shop end-of-year sales.
  • Most gift cards (40%), according to respondents, are purchased in amounts of $25–$49.
  • 27% of consumers suspect that gifts they've given have been "regifted."
  • Nearly 2 in 10 (17%) consumers have tried to find out how much money was spent on a gift they've received.
  • 36% of holiday shoppers report using an online promotional code or coupon to save money while shopping online this year.
  • 26% of holiday shoppers reported using in-store coupons (printable, mobile) to save money on gift purchases this year.

The survey was conducted between December 3 and December 10, 2012, among 1,106 U.S. residents ages 18 and over, using an email invitation and an online survey. Quotas are set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the entire U.S. population ages 18 and over. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample. The margin of error for any subgroups will be slightly higher.

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