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INTRODUCTION An emerging trend in the marketplace, "Gift cards are a saving grace to holiday shoppers struggling to find that perfect item" (Canadian Business 2006/2007, p. 17). Americans now use more than 840 million credit cards and annually charge one-trillion dollars, which is more than what they spend in cash (Toffler and Toffler 2006, p.278). Indeed, besides the use of credit cards, Gift cards actually began as paper gift certificates; but during the 1990s evolved into plastic cards with magnetic strips (Hudson 2005). In the late 1990s, major retailers initiated "closed-loop" or "retailer-specific" gift cards (Horne 2007). Then major credit-card companies followed suit (Acohido and Swartz 2007) by issuing "open-loop" or "network-branded" gift cards (e.g., Visa gift card or Master Card gift card) (Horne 2007; Fest 2010). Gaining popularity as holiday gifts, gift cards were ranked as the "second-most-popular item after clothing" in 2005 (Yang and Lewis 2006). Now, nearly three-fourths of consumers in the United States either purchase or receive at least one gift card annually (Promo 2006). Consumers spent $100 billion on gift cards in 2010, up 22 percent from $82 billion in 2006 (Acohido and Swartz 2007; Byrnes 2008; Steiner 2011) in contrast to $45 billion in 2003 (Harris 2005). An estimated 5.1 billion merchant gift cards (issued by retailers) and bank gift cards (issued by Visa, Master Card and American Express) are used worldwide (Acohido and Swartz 2007).