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November 26th, 2008Gift Cards: Easy buy becomes personal

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by Greta Guest

If you receive a gift card this holiday season, don’t be surprised if it lights up, sings to you, has a familiar face on it or smells like gingerbread when you scratch it.

Those are some of the new features on gift cards this year offered by retailers including Target, Borders and American Eagle Outfitters.

“They are whimsical and fun,” said Borders spokeswoman Ann Binkley of the gift cards the Ann Arbor-based bookseller is offering. “You can find one that matches people’s personality.”

And with gift cards steadily rising in popularity, you’ll also find the cards in more places, including Kroger, Walgreens and even the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, which is offering its own gift card for the first time this year.

Holiday gift card sales have soared 44% from $17.2 billion sold in 2003 to $24.8 billion sold during the 2006 holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation.

The retail trade group expects gift card sales to reach $26.3 billion this holiday

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