Use it or lose it

January 18 has been declared National Use Your Gift Card Day

One billion — with a “B.” That’s how much Americans left in unspent gift cards last year. In an effort to get all that cash into retailers, January 18 has been declared National Use Your Gift Card Day.

Shoppers with bags and smiles

Gift cards were the second-most gifted item in the 2018 holiday season, according to a consumer sentiment survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insight & Analytics. The fact that so many go unused sparked an idea for Tracy Tilson, founder of UseYourGiftCard.com. The online platform will include “expert tips on how to maximize” the popular but forgotten piece of plastic.

The website also plans to include merchant incentives strong enough to encourage a little January housecleaning. Dig through those drawers and purses to find the gift cards, then use them on January 18.

In the future, Tilson anticipates that National Use Your Gift Card Day will be held the third Saturday of each January. Ironically enough, the third Monday of January is typically designated as “Blue Monday,” the day of the year in which holiday credit card bills arrive and we face the realization that we’ve fallen off our New Year’s resolutions. It’s also a time when the weather tends to be pretty bleak.

National Use Your Gift Card Day may help turn back the tide of Blue Mondays, proving once again that retail therapy can cure all wounds. Now, to find those gift cards from Christmases past and present.

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