Identity protection tips for the holidays
How to return holiday gifts

How is your Christmas Day going?

Christmas Tree and Kids in SpainMerry Christmas to those of you who celebrate this day, the annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ.

Nine-in-ten Americans — and 95 percent of Christians — say they celebrate Christmas, according to a Pew Research Center survey. These figures have generally held steady in recent years. Today, 46 percent of Americans say they celebrate Christmas as primarily a religious rather than cultural holiday.

Consumers spent about $1,007 for the holiday season this year, up 4.1 percent from the $967 spent last year, according to a survey conducted for the National Retail Federation. Hopefully, you kept your receipts so you can return clothes that don't fit or gifts that didn't meet their mark in terms of pleasing the recipient.

For the 12th year, gift cards were the most popular items on consumers' wish lists, requested by 60 percent of those in the federation survey. That means there's less of a problem about whether the gift fits or is what the person likes. However, it's extremely important consumers keep track of their gift cards and spend them. More than $100 billion in gift cards are purchased each year, but about $1 billion go unused. Don't let this money sit in a drawer and be wasted.

Read the terms of your gift card. The Credit CARD Act of 2009 made changes so gift cards now have a minimum expiration date of five years from the date of purchase. However, if the card isn't used for 12 months, inactivity fees can be charged.

U.S. consumers spend more than $1 trillion this holiday season from from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, according to eMarketer, a market research firm. It's the first time sales have passed that amount.

I'm celebrating with my family. We had a fabulous Christmas Eve dinner, with many wonderful presents opened this morning. All the clothes fit and the money gifts and other gifts were appreciated, too.

Copyright 2018, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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