Buyers Beware While Shopping for the Holidays

Many closing stores still selling gift cards

Gift cards are easy and practical gifts, but not if they can’t be redeemed.

Usually the thought of stores closing and going bankrupt is not the biggest worry around the holiday shopping season, but this year many companies are going under by the year 2009. It is estimated that gift card holders could lose more than $75 million from store and restaurant closings in 2008.

In the coming weeks, holiday shoppers need to be wary of buying gift cards from closing stores. If you have already bought gift cards to stores that will be closed by the end of the year or soon after, the best plan is to redeem them now while you can.

"I think [closing stores] might add incentives to gift cards, so perhaps with getting a $100 gift card the buyer will get a discount on another purchase they're making. That there will be other value added things to encourage the gift card market because it is so profitable for retailers," said Kathleen Kusek, a consumer researcher.

Some stores to watch out for that will be closing in the coming months are included on the list below. Dispite their closings, most chains are still operating hundreds of stores, so it might not be a huge concern to worry about the small number of closings. The list also doesn't take into consideration the number of stores they are opening.

This is a nationwide list, so not all closures will affect the D.C. area:

Circuit City: 155 stores closing
Disney: 98 stores closing
Footlocker: 140 stores closing
GAP: 85 stores closing
KB Toys: 356 stores closing
Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug and Catherine's: 150 stores nationwide
Linens and Things: closing all stores
Footlocker: 140 stores closing
Sharper Image: closing all stores
Sprint/Nextel: 133 stores closing
Whitehall: closing all stores
Wickes Furniture: closing all stores
Zales: closing 82 stores

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