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In times of crisis, the private sector has always played the most important part in defeating an enemy, be it war or natural disaster. In times of war, citizens have stepped up by buying “war bonds," debt securities issued by government to finance military operations and other wartime expenditures. Modern governments finance war by putting additional money into circulation. The bonds serve to remove money from circulation and control inflation.
During this pandemic, the equivalent of a war bond is the gift card. Millions upon millions of Americas can step up now to make that investment in their communities and help their neighbors and businesses make it through to brighter days. Business gets the cash now, and consumers get to spend it later.
During this time of economic uncertainty, it is important to understand that this could help those in need now and benefit them in the 2020 holiday season. Buying holiday gift cards for friends and loved ones now will help businesses now with an infusion of much-needed cash. The benefit to the consumer is that many gift cards during this time of the year typically come at discounts of 5, 10 and even 20 percent in savings.
“For small business, maybe it is time for the gift-card economy — spending money now for consumption down the road," Al Root wrote in a column for Barrons. "This isn’t a call to shop. It is an observation that acute cash flow problems can become a big issue for any company," he added.
“Gift card offers won’t generate material incremental demand,” Gordon Haskett restaurant analyst Jeff Farmer said in an interview. He estimated the impact would be small. But small, local restaurants hammered by the outbreak might welcome the idea.
In 2019, holiday gift card sales doubled holiday retail sales estimates. Consumers spent 7 percent more on gift cards than they did in 2018. In our current situation where a majority of the population is at home but with support checks on the way by the federal government – the next few months would be a great boost to the economy if consumers started to purchase gift cards as their 2020 holiday presents for family and friends. There is no need to shop, leave your home or worry if the present purchased is right.
"The popularity of gift cards cannot be overstated; 80 percent of consumers reported receiving a digital or physical gift card for the 2019 holidays, making the cards a significant source of revenue for retailers. I expect that post-holiday gift cards redemptions will drive an economic impact for retailers in early 2020," said Theresa McEndree, vice president of marketing at Blackhawk Network. "With more than half of consumers expecting to spend as much as $30 more than the value of their gift cards — and many planning to spend them within weeks of receiving them — gift cards are poised to make a huge boon for retailers.”
Businesses are hurting now. They need help and purchasing gift cards is a way to get them much needed cash now to keep them afloat until this scourge is over. Buying gift cards is the perfect part of a public/private partnership. Government is stepping up with cash payments, and the private sector can, too, with investments of $5, $10, and $20 at a time. Buying gift cards also spreads investment among small, medium and large businesses.
We will not forsake the holiday season. We will celebrate. We will defeat COVID-19 and we will gather with friends and family to rejoice in the traditions that make America, as President Reagan called it, a shining city on a hill.
President Trump promised and is delivering an “all hands on deck” response to defeating this pandemic. Every American can help too.
This holiday season, let’s make this year the year of the gift card. Let us show our support for our private sector by supporting them now when they need it most.