Gift Cards Popular This Year

Gift Cards Popular This Year
By: Carley O'Keefe
Carbondale, IL - It's definitely a gift where one size fits all and it’s as good as cash at your favorite store, restaurant or gas station. Gift cards for just about anything imaginable are available year-round, and Heartland retailers are selling a lot of those little plastic presents this holiday season.
"If there's anything to be made a gift card, they're starting to,” said General Manager Mark Drury of the Carbondale Walgreens.

Drury says in the past of couple years gift card sales have really taken off at his store.

“We've probably tripled what we had last year,” said Drury.

Walgreens now sells not only its own gift cards, but gift cards galore for everything from Blockbuster to Starbucks, and even T.G.I. Friday’s and Applebee’s.

"It's a perfect gift because how can you go wrong? If you know someone likes to go out and eat, you can buy a card to their favorite restaurant," said Drury.

Target hasn't yet expanded its gift card selection-- but even so, the Marion Target’s gift card racks don't stay stocked for long.

“We fill these every morning and you can see the gift cards are really selling,” said Target Employee Terri Taylor.

This holiday season specifically, gift cards are being purchased as somewhat of a rain check of sorts for those ultra-popular and often out-of-stock gifts like the X-Box 360.

Still, some folks are old fashioned and view a thin piece of plastic as a sorry substitute for a tangible gift wrapped up with the recipient in mind.

“It's kind of nice to pick up something during the year that you know someone will like it's easy to pick up a gift card at Target or Wal-mart," said Target shopper Ric Martin.

"I would say it allows them to get their own choice to decide what they want for Christmas instead of a tie or sweater they won't be able to use,” Taylor said.

The gift card trend is also helping retailers. Walgreens employees say when folks come in to buy gift cards; they'll likely also buy a greeting card or other merchandise which helps the store's sales. Target employees say the gift of choice means also fewer returns the day after Christmas.