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This Year, Retailers Look For Ways To Boost Sagging Holiday Sales

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Most people are probably all "shopped out" from the holidays. But retailers are banking on them to hit the stores again for gift returns.

According to retail market watchers, this holiday season is shaping up to be the worst in 30 years for retailers. But the even deeper markdowns that are expected in many stores for the last few days of December could be great news for shoppers.

Retailers were trying to lure shoppers in Thursday to recoup some of the lost holiday sales and clear out inventory to make room for spring merchandise.

Retailers are also hoping consumers will use the gift cards and gift certificates they got as presents. That is very important to retailers because many of them do not book gift card sales until shoppers actually use them.

There is a word of caution, though, because some gift cards have expiration dates on them. But that is against the law in many states.

If you wait a while to use some cards, you may also find you will be charged a maintenance fee that reduces the value of the card, which is also illegal in many states.

If you do not use the full value of a gift card, many stores will issue you another gift card rather than give you cash back, which experts say is another way to keep consumers going back to that store and for retailers to make more money.