States, Sellers Drooling Over Gift Card Sales

Retailers add revenue when they're used, but states want their share
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 27, 2008 2:19 PM CST
Apple iTunes Gift Cards and Apple TV on display at Costco store in San Jose, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2007. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – After enduring tepid holiday sales, retailers are happily awaiting $8 billion from shoppers with unused gift cards—because only then can sellers claim the added revenue, BusinessWeek reports. But some US states say that their unclaimed-property laws enable them to extract a piece of the left-over card pie. What's really up for grabs is revenue from millions of cards that are lost or forgotten and go unspent.

States like New York and Delaware order retailers to send them unspent balances, while Virginia and Florida let sellers keep the dough. It's a pickle for investors too, who can't easily determine how much merchandise really moved and how much retailers pocketed through unspent balances. Japan has a solution to get people spending: put gift cards on cell phones, so people won’t forget to use them.