How Much Is a Gift Really Worth? Not As Much As You Pay for It

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Research shows that gift-giving is often better for retailers than it is for the folks actually receiving gifts. Forty-two percent of recipients receive at least one gift that they never open, and 38% of consumers get gifts that they return. Recipients also typically deem gifts to be worth significantly less than what the buyer paid—up to 18% less, meaning a $50 sweater is probably only worth $41 to the recipient (perhaps more if it’s a trendy ugly sweater).

Because gift cards encourage foolish spending—that is, if they’re used at all ($2.5 billion is wasted annually)—they too are often worth much less to the recipient than the price rung up at the cash register.

I’m not sure what any of this says about the value of the thought—you know, the thing that’s supposed to count most with gift-giving—but it’s all interesting food for, um, thought as we reach the height of gift-exchanging season.

These gift-giving stats and more are presented in a neat infographic.

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