>>> after taking a breather in early december, shoppers have come back in a big way. according ? to the international council of shopping centers , sales the week before christmas were up 4.5% compares to last year. this after a decline in the first two weeks of december. one kmiflt says that consumers are still cautious and looking for bargains. 2011 expected to be a record year. the bought gift cards this year, sales will top $27 billion. experts expected half of shoppers will redeem their gift cards in the january. if history proves right, millions of dollars on those cards will never be used. courtney regan joining me with tips on how to help folks get the most out of those gift cards .
>> i think many of us have at least one gift card at our wallets. i looked it in mine, very six in there. it's not that i don't want the cards, doi intends to use them. sometimes it's not convenient or perhaps i have to add value to the card to get what i want. you want to make sure you do use the card. $41 billion has been un used in gift cards since 2005 . your first choice is to take it to the retailer and buy something. you can get more for your money now than if you wait 30 days or so when the sales have passed.
>> you're saying we should redeem them early, to take advantage of some of these post christmas sales we're seeing advertised?
>> exactly. and if you get a gift card that doesn't exactly suit your tastes, you do have options. you can trade it in. you're going to have to pay a small amount to do so, ? but you can go to plasticjungle or giftcard rescue or cardpool.com and get 290% of the card's value and use it toward another retailer that you will, in fact, be able to use.
>> i understand there's a website out there that you can take your gift card and use the money on the gift card and invest it? explain that to me?
>> yes, can you. that's for those of us who don't want to buy one more shirt or candy bar or whatever the case may be. you can go to goldmine.com, for as limb as $25. you can invest that money, put it in a mutual fund and see if it can grow. see if you can make 50 dollars at the end of the year, that will be a good return. you you never know, stranger things have happened . it could be something you could really benefit from in the end.
>> consumers continue to lose money on these gift cards because they don't redeem them. retailers love them. if you get an itunes gift cards , you never buy 15 or $20 worth of songs, you always spend a little more at that particular store.
>> yeah, exactly. because like i said, before, if you you get a card for $25. what if the lowest item in the store is $29.99. you have to spend more to be able to use that card. in some respects it's a good thing for retailers. what's interesting, a lot of people think once that card is bought, the retailers get that money, whether or not it's redeemed. because of accounting rules, retailers can not claim that revenue. it's unearned income until that card is fully cashed in. it has to do with accounting rules, believe it or not. it can be tough for them too.
>> you just taught us something in the studio. have a great new year.