Sales of Gift Cards Grow, and Transpire Earlier

Retail sales jumped sharply in November. The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that the increase was bigger than expected. Store owners hope that trend will continue through the holiday shopping season. Business was especially brisk at electronics stores.

But many holiday shoppers are buying gift cards, allowing recipients to choose their own presents.

Once a last-minute fallback, gift cards have become hot sellers, even on the day after Thanksgiving, a traditional purchasing day. The National Retail Federation estimates holiday gift card sales this year will grow 32 percent, to nearly $25 billion.

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