Store Closings – Do Not Buy Gift Cards From Closing Retail Stores

Store ClosingsIs your favorite retail store closing? Do you buy gift cards during the holidays? Store closings are on the rise and if you buy gift cards from a retail store that is closing, you and your gift card recipient will be out of luck. The increasing number of large retail store closings and stores going out of business in 2008/2009 are causing many shoppers to think twice before buying gift cards.

You’ve probably heard the news about Circuit City closing some stores, but I for one am not shedding any tears about Circuit City. Circuit City (amongst several other large retail stores) have the worst customer service I’ve ever seen, so it’s no big loss to see Circuit City going Bye-Bye. Goodbye Circuit City and Good Riddance.

Consumer Reports recommends that consumers NOT buy gift cards at all this year, saying if the business goes under or files for bankruptcy, the gift card won’t be any good and the money spent will a complete loss. Wait a minute, what about “open loop” gift cards?

Consumers are being advised to pay close attention to the list of retail stores closing before buying gift cards (or discount gift cards) as holiday gifts, being sure to regularly check for updates to the list of stores closing their doors.

[Update: If you have received an email or heard about an email listing stores that are purported to be closing their doors, pay close attention to the links below because part of the listed stores below include information about the “email hoax”]

List of Retail Stores Closing-

Circuit City filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on November 11, 2008 announcing some 155 stores are being closed

117 under performing Ann Taylor stores closing nationwide

Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug and Catherine’s – Parent company Charming Shoppes Inc. announced several months ago the closing of 150 stores nationwide

Eddie Bauer closed 31 retail stores and outlets (low performing stores) but opened 10 new stores during the first three quarters of this year, and are not planning on closing anymore store locations in 2009. (Link provided details financial report for Eddie Bauer)

Cache plans to close 21 stores and open 16 new stores in 2008

Talbots “closing all stores” refuted. Talbot closed down 100 stores but remains in business

J. Jill- Talbot wants to sell the chain of stores but has not made an announcement of store closings

GAP (including Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy) increased its store closures from 85 to approximately 115 store locations

Footlocker closing 140 stores in 2008. So far, 129 Footlocker stores have closed and 58 new Footlocker stores have opened

Wickes Furniture filed for bankruptcy early this year and all retail store locations are closed

Levitz Furniture filed for bankruptcy in 2007 and currently in process of liquidating assets

The Bombay Co. filed for bankruptcy in 2007 and is closing all stores in the U.S.

Zales announced in February 2008 the closing of 105 Zales stores this year

Whitehall Jewelers filed for bankruptcy in June 2008 and is closing all stores

Only some Piercing Pagoda (owned by Zales) store locations are included amongst the 105 planned closures announced by Zales in February

Disney announced in May 2008 the closing of 98 stores and Home Depot is closing 15 stores nationwide. [Update: See Comments Below]

Macys closed 9 department stores in 2008

Linens ‘n Things filed for bankruptcy in May 2008 and is closing all stores

Movie Gallery (AKA Hollywood Video) closed hundred of stores after filing for bankruptcy in 2007 but remains in business

Pep Boys closed 33 store locations, about 5% of its auto supply and repair stores [Update: See Comments Below]

Sprint Nextel announced in January 2008 the closing of 125 stores

JC Penney, Lowe’s and Office Depot are “scaling back

Ethan Allen announced in January 2008 plans to consolidate “about 12 of its retail design centers and two service centers”

Wilson Leather has already closed down 160 store locations and is converting the remaining stores into a new women’s accessories concept

Sharper Image and Lillian Vernon filed for bankruptcy in early 2008 and is closing all stores

K B Toys posted a list of 356 stores that it is closing around the U.S. as part of its bankruptcy reorganization plan. To see the list of store closings, go to the KB Toys Information web site, and click on Press Information [Update: Closings denied]

Dillard’s new CEO focusing on closing underperforming stores and cut back on expenses

The Best Gift Cards are “Open Loop” Gift Cards

The suggestion that consumers give cash this year instead of gift cards or Gift Certificates doesn’t sit too well with some shoppers who feel that sticking a couple of twenties in an envelope feels rather cold and impersonal. “79% of consumers have given a gift card for Christmas within the past five years”, says Britt Beemer, chairman of America’s Research Group, a consumer-behavior research company. Industry experts say gift cards should be very thoughtfully selected, agreeing that the best gift cards are “open loop” gift cards.

Open loop gift cards that are tied to a bank rather than a specific retail store are believed to be the best gift cards for any and all occasion gifts. It doesn’t matter if your favorite retail store closes or goes belly up in bankruptcy, because open loop gift cards can be used anywhere and at any time, eliminating the need to constantly gauge the financial health of a specific retail store.

Mastercard gift cards or visa gift cards are the most popular open loop gift cards, as well as gift cards from American Express and Discover. Most mall operators also offer gift cards that can be used in all of their stores. If you receive gift cards this holiday season, “don’t let them gather dust”, says Ellen Cannon of Bankrate.com. “Spend them by New Year’s.”


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25 Responses to “Store Closings – Do Not Buy Gift Cards From Closing Retail Stores”

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  1. Lin says:

    Sarah, thank you for that information!

    While there are some store closings taking place, many have already happened earlier in the year as planned closings of “low performing” stores.

    Anyone concerned about the “email hoax” being passed around that I personally didn’t know about should check the news links included in this post that explain that at least SOME of the store closings are legitimate closings and SOME are part of a email hoax campaign.

  2. Andrew says:

    I’ve seen this report several times and I think it may be overestimating or even over-hyping the ramifications. To be sure, you don’t want to buy gift cards from the stores going under, but stores that are mentioned such as Lowes? Nothing is wrong with a store like Lowes, and although they may be “scaling back” I highly doubt anyone will have a problem with gift cards at Lowes.

  3. Lin says:

    Andrew, the term “scaling back” was taken from a legitimate news website article I found while researching this post.

    Personally speaking, I’ve already bought gift cards at both Home Depot AND Lowe’s, since those two stores are very popular stores for a guy on my xmas list.

  4. Susan says:

    “Open Loop” gift cards may seem like a great choice, but in my experience, the purchase of these cards includes an addtitional fee which goes to the card’s company…not a fee you would have to pay with a store-specific gift card.

  5. Lin says:

    Hi Susan,

    Mastercard gift cards and other open loop gift cards are my personal favorite regardless of the fees. Gifts cards for specific stores, such as Home Depot, can only be used at Home Depot stores. I’ve bought Home Depot gift cards myself, but there are others on my Christmas list that much prefer to be able to buy a little bit here and a little bit there, going to different stores with the same gift card until it’s all used up. It’s really a matter of preference.