Gift Card Purchases Due to Surge

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Gift cards are the great fallback when you can't figure out what to get the kids, or Aunt Susie for the holidays. American consumers are expected to buy $35 billion worth of gift cards this year, up 25 percent from last year. And the industry keeps coming up with ways to make them more appealing. For holdouts who still find gift cards impersonal, one store allows customers to "personalize" cards, adding their own designs or photo. For all those who think cards will end up getting stuck in their wallets and not getting used there's a Web site that buys unredeemed gift cards. Perhaps the most appealing innovation in this era of rising fuel prices comes from Rockland Electric Company: it's one of a group of power companies offering "energy gift certificates." You can give the cards to friends and family who need "a little help" paying their bills.

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