Gift Card Syndrome Drives $8 Billion In Annual Losses To U.S. Consumers

LOUISVILLE, KY – American consumers are wasting up to $8 billion annually on holiday shopping, according to a new analysis by online retailer CafePress (

According to CafePress’ Division of Consumer Knowledge & Science, each year an estimated $1 billion on gift cards go unredeemed, while $5-7 billion on gift cards expire before use or are simply lost[1]. In fact, since 2005, analysts believe that Americans have wasted more than $40 billion on unredeemed gift cards.

“I was a terrible math student, but $40 billion dollars seems like a huge chunk of change to throw away on a rectangular piece of plastic and a generally thoughtless gift,” said CafePress co-founder Maheesh Jain. “Just think of all the things Americans could buy with $40 billion dollars instead, like 22 probe landings, 49 St. Louis Cardinals baseball teams or 2.6 billion mugs from CafePress.”

With sales of gift cards rising from $80 billion in 2007 to $118 billion in 2013[2], and the National Retail Foundation estimating this year the average American consumer will spend approximately $163 on gift cards – the highest average to date –CafePress has today launched, an effort to save an estimated $118 billion of mostly wasted spending.

Staffed by a team with anthropological doctoral degrees from leading universities including the University of Tennessee, West Virginia University, University of Arkansas and Elon College, CafePress’ Division of Consumer Knowledge & Science has classified the need to senselessly waste money on gift cards as Gift Card Laziness Syndrome, or GiCLS, which is expected to infect 80 percent of holiday shoppers this year.

 While the root cause of GiCLS is unclear, CafePress’ Division of Consumer Knowledge & Science identified at least three origins – typically found as a by-product of people who work too much, drink too much or experience prolonged episodes of staring at giftwrap.

“Shoppers need to make a decision. Do they want to tell loved ones, ‘I thought about you for all of 30 seconds as I grabbed this card at the gas station!’ Or do they want to delight loved ones with something unique and personalized?” continued Jain, emphatically waving his arms for no apparent reason. “If you don’t know the answer to that, please call me. I’ll help you cheat on the test.”

About CafePress

CafePress is passionate about helping individuals forge connections and celebrate their identities, interests and obsessions through unique products and content. 

Our customers include people from all walks of life who are drawn to products that are emotional, inspirational and motivational. CafePress continues to enhance its assortment of designs, brands, images and base goods within its library of print-on-demand products. This expansion solidifies CafePress’ reputation as the ultimate resource for creating connections and bring-to-life creativity, opinions and passions. For more information, visit or connect with CafePress on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or YouTube.

[1] Tower Group Research

[2] Tower Group Research