Gift Certificates

Gift Certificates are the greatest commercial invention ever. From a retailer's point of view.

Let's take your typical scenario:

  • Bob doesn't know what to get Alice.
  • Bob decides to buy a $30 gift certificate for <insert store here>
  • Store issues gift certificate for $30, expiring in 6 months.
  • Bob gives gift certificate to Alice one week later.

How long is it until Alice remembers she has this gift certificate? How long until she actually uses it then?

You're essentially exchanging good money for money you can spend at only one store, with an expiry date... I wonder how much retailers rake in from expired gift certificates?