Gift Cards: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

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Freakonomics authors Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt penned a fascinating piece about the gift-card economy in yesterday's New York Times. It's a short but fun read. Perhaps the most interesting bit of information is that Best Buy "earned $16 million last year in gift-card 'breakage,' which is the industry's term for card value that was bought but never redeemed. Then there's what retailers call 'upspending': most customers who do use their gift cards spend some of their own money to buy merchandise that is more expensive than the value of the card."

Merry Christmas, retailers!