Gift cards, crisp $20 bills top this season’s list of most wanted gifts

Retailers are already reporting a shortage in gift cards of every numerical value.

With Christmas still over a month away, the crunch is already on for some people trying to get their holiday shopping done before crowds take over the mall. Though data is still emerging on what retail items will be the hottest sellers this December, a few early front-runners have already got parents fighting over limited supply: according to Business Sales (BS) magazine, the ‘it’ gift for 2014 just might be a tie between gift cards and slightly-worn $20 bills.

“It’s a definite departure from the Tickle Me Elmo and Buzz Lightyears of previous years, but it makes sense,” reports Steven Roy, one of the chief analysts for BS magazine. “Instead of wasting money on material goods and things we’ll lose interest in as soon as we actually own them, people want to participate in the thrill of direct consumerism themselves.”

Unfortunately for any last-minute shoppers, businesses everywhere have already started selling out of gift cards weeks ahead of Christmas.

“Just because the demand is up doesn’t mean the supply will adjust accordingly,” warns Roy. “Most businesses start preparing for Christmas around the summer time, so even if there’s a jump in popularity around October/November, there isn’t a lot retailers can do except try to avoid making the same mistake next year.”

Many parents have begun turning to eBay in hopes of finding a gift card for their child to open on Christmas Day, but reports say that prices online have been inflated by up to 300 per cent of their retail value.

“My five-year-old daughter wrote a letter to Santa months ago asking for a Dollar Giant gift card and the cheapest one I can find online is for $75,” an exasperated parent commented on Dollar Giant’s Facebook wall. “What am I going to tell her on Christmas morning when she unwraps all of her presents and none of them are a gift card? She’ll lose faith in Santa completely.”

Similar concerns are being voiced about the season’s other most-popular gift, a $20 bill. Demand for the increment of money has spiked over the last month and the Bank of Canada is saying they’ve had trouble keeping up.

“I’d say early November all the way into January is our busiest time of the year,” says Bank of Canada employee Maria Yoshida. “We implemented an annual pre-order system back in 2012 so people could order their $20 bills in October and have them guaranteed before Christmas but we always run out of stock regardless. I just wish there was something we could do to help people who are going to have to face Christmas without $20 bills.”

The Bank of Canada has begun a registry for people still interested in $20 bills, but they are unable to guarantee any new shipments between now and December 25.