Regifting No Longer A Dirty Word
'Seinfeld' Brought The Concept Of Regifting Into American Consciousness

POSTED: 3:53 pm EST December 30, 2005

According to the Bible, it is more blessed to give than to receive. And, according to the economics of modern gift giving, it can be a better deal to resell or recycle what you receive, as long as the gift giver doesn’t find out.

Scholars say the concept of unwanted gifts emerged during the prosperity of the postwar period, poignantly symbolized by “the island of misfit toys” on TV’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

But it wasn’t until the 90s that regifting entered the American lexicon, courtesy of “Seinfeld.”

With the advent of the Internet, a new outlet has emerged for regifters, giving online auction giant eBay a nice year-end revenue boost.

The auction site usually sees a post holiday spike in listings for hideous sweaters, goofball gadgets, and fruitcake.

“The company typically gets sequential growth in the first quarter, which is uncharacteristic for retail, and I think a large part of that has to do — the company refers to it as recycling, not regifting — that carries through as well as just general Internet traffic being high in the first quarter,” said Steve Weinstein, of Pacific Crest Securities.

Of those surveyed, 11 percent said that they have sold a gift online. Among people ages 25 to 34 the figure is 22 percent. In addition to unwanted presents, some are selling gift cards and store credit from gifts they’ve returned.

“If you really want to get value for your gift, take it back to the store, get store credit and then sell your store credit on eBay. There’s an incredibly liquid market for store credit and you can get upwards of 90 percent of the value of that store credit in cash when you sell it,” said Daniel Nissanoff, author of “Future Shop.”

With hundreds of eBay drop-off stores around the country now, it is relatively easy to unload an unwanted gift online. In fact, retail analysts suspect the regifting and recycling phenomena might explain the relatively low level of returned items this year.

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