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Gift cards boost end of year sales at struggling local businesses

Gift cards
John Palminteri
After a surge of gift card buying and giving at the holidays, the cards are coming back now to close out 2020. (Photo: John Palminteri)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Gift cards were a popular gift during the COVID crisis. They were bought and sent, instead of spending time inside stores or in an areas where you might have a health concern.

With the holidays over and gifts being given, people are now using their gift cards at their designated stores.

After the rain on Monday, sunshine has returned and those who still need to use their gift cards are out collecting their holiday gifts and possibly buying more than the value.

Shopping analysts, who track sales nationwide, say shopping after Christmas is considered one of the busier times of the year.

Due to the pandemic, stores continue to require masks, social-distancing protocols and in some cases, no-touch locations. Some stores are placing an employee at the door to keep a count and abide by the COVID limitations.

Retail sales have had a dramatic test under coronavirus conditions. On several social media platforms shoppers reported online deliveries apparently stressing the mail-order world and expectations that were not always met.

"I think a gift card is an easy way out," said shopper Rudy Sanchez. "So it is simple, if you don't know what to get them you get them a gift card. It goes a long way than just getting them a bad gift. I would rather give a gift card than a bad gift."

Those who like food hopefully got food cards and those who shop got their desired retail cards.

Sophia Morales was coming out of Marshalls and said, "At this point, I like food and drink better just because I am home a lot and I don't shop as much like maybe for door dash and postmates. I use that a lot."

Her sister Gloria Morales said, "I would prefer the cash the debit cash cards where someone can put as much as they want on there and you can get cash from the card."

One shopper said her gift card didn't work when she used it but it had great value so she called the company and got it fixed.

"It would be denied and so then I tried it on line and then I eventually figured it out but I  had some issues and called the company and didn't want to sit on a useful gift card that I couldn't use," said Madeline Mishler. She was persistent. The card had a value of $200.

Using the cards now can also get you good value with after Christmas discounts that are as high as 70 percent, and in some cases, closeout prices.

One shopper said she takes gift cards but the right gift for her would be personally picked gift.

Maya Kamen said, "I think a meaningful gift is more meaningful when someone gets you a thought out gift."

Related story: Gift card purchases encouraged to help businesses survive

Lifestyle / Money and Business / Santa Barbara - South County / Your Money
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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3 and NewsChannel 12. To learn more about John, click here.

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