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All I want for Christmas is a novelty gift card

With the dire state of the economy forcing people to tighten their belts, it seems most Americans would rather forgo that pair of socks or pointless gadget this Christmas in favour of something they can actually make use of - a gift card.

Research from the National Retail Federation suggests 55% of Americans will ask Santa for a gift card this year, making it the country's most requested present.

Why is this?

“Most consumers have been holding back on spending for themselves all year long and would love nothing more than receiving a gift card that would let them buy whatever they want,” says Phil Rist from BIGresearch, which conducted the research for the federation.

This is a bit depressing but what's even worse is that, with prices going up, some people are expected to use the cards not for a well deserved treat but to buy necessities like food and petrol.

Huge market

An incredible $24.9 billion in gift card sales is expected in the US this Christmas and with money like that at stake, it's no surprise the market is fiercely competitive.

TD Bank has put out a pr making much of the fact its cards are free and come nicely wrapped up in a little box with a ribbon.

Retailers seem to be more ambitious: Target is offering a series of WOW! cards, including one that doubles up as a 1.2 megapixel digital camera, whilst Best Buy has produced one that can be used as a speaker for your MP3 player.

No doubt the quality of both is pretty dubious but the novelty factor will probably draw in people who feel a little guilty about just giving a loved one a boring piece of plastic.

Best Buy speaker card

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