Shopping Malls Decked Out, Shoppers Thinking Christmas

November 15, 2008 12:27:15 AM PST
At Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis, Janet Roggero says she's started her Christmas shopping. "I've started looking, yes. And it's difficult to know what to buy."She says she is thinking about giving gift cards. "I have a 12 year old grand daughter and I've found that's the easiest, give her a gift card and let her buy her own." She said.

Diego Galindo of Parlier hates to spoil the surprise, but thinks he'll probably get his girlfriend a gift card. "Gift card wise, I probably get her a gift card you know, cause you can never know what a girl wants." He said.

But according to Vicky Sanders of the Better Business Bureau in Fresno, there's reason for caution about gift cards this year. "Consumers should be very careful about buying gift cards . Gift cards make a wonderful Christmas present, they make wonderful gifts any time of the year but you have to make sure that the store is going to be there for the gift card to be used." Sanders said.

With some big retailers closing, and others in bankruptcy Janet Roggero knows there's reason to be careful. "Yeah, I kind of listen to the news, I know not to go to Mervyn's for a gift card."

Mervyns and Linens and Things are closing their stores. Circuit City is keeping it's Fresno store open, but the company is in bankruptcy. A judge has yet to decide if the company can honor gift cards. With the slow shopping season expected, Sanders acknowledges other stores could have problems this season. "It's impossible to tell when a store is going bankrupt unless it has declared bankruptcy. Consumers need to use their own good judgement about the health of the store."

Sanders says if the store seems to be offering more drastic cuts than just holiday discounts, ask a manager what's going on before buying a gift card. Some consumer experts say just forget them altogether...and some shoppers agree.

Mall shopper Brittany Blue of Clovis says,"I would rather prefer money so I can just get whatever I want."

Her friend Lexi Ferarri of Clovis, agrees,"I would give the gift cards, but I don't want gift cards like I'd rather have money and stuff."

Another tip from the BBB, if you do give gift cards, instead of cash, urge the recipients it to use them as soon as possible.

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