Off The Menu: National Use Your Gift Card Day approaching

We’re all familiar with the lineup of holiday season retail occasions – Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday – but this year we might be witnessing the addition of a new shopping holiday to the calendar.

On Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, America’s consumers are being encouraged to observe the first “National Use Your Gift Card Day,” an occasion dedicated to cashing in gift cards and preventing them from becoming part of the estimated $3 billion in card gifts that go unused each year.

Use Your Gift Card Day is being promoted by an Internet startup, Use Your Gift Card LLC, based in Boca Raton, FL, and the idea is already gaining traction in the retail community, with several major chains using the tag line as a tie in with January sales and promotions.

Regardless of National Use Your Gift Card Day’s potential for establishing itself as a commercial occasion, the idea behind the promotion is a sound one – consumers who receive gift cards should use them.

With more restaurant gift cards representing more than forty percent of the overall value of cards gifted, the creation of a special day for gift card redemption can only be beneficial, especially with that day occurring in the traditionally slow month of January.

If Use Your Gift Card Day catches on, it could have the potential to become as busy a time as some of the other peak restaurant industry days.

Use Your Gift Card LLC is hosting a web site,, that offers tips for smart gift card spending as well as links to various retailers and restaurant chains.

Already a number of major chains have allowed themselves to be linked to the site – Applebee’s, Chipotle, Panera Bread, and Red Lobster, for instance, although none has created promotions specifically linked to the occasion.

Use Your Gift Card Day is nonetheless a marketing effort worth keeping an eye on.

Hugh Robert is a faculty member in Holyoke Community College’s hospitality and culinary arts program and has nearly 45 years of restaurant and educational experience. Please send items of interest to Off the Menu at the Republican, P.O. Box 1329, Springfield, MA 01101; Robert can also be reached at

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