To encourage consumers to gather their gift cards and spend them at retailers as intended, National Use Your Gift Card Day returns on Saturday, January 21.

Gift cards are one of the most popular gifts during the holiday season, but according to, $21 billion will go unspent this year. The website found in a recent survey that 47 percent of US adults have at least one unused gift card, voucher or store credit.

“People are so busy after the holidays, it’s no wonder they lose track of the gift cards they receive,” says Tracy Tilson, founder of the national shopping holiday. “That’s why we came up with National Use Your Gift Card Day. It’s a reminder to rescue those unused gift cards and spend them before they’re forgotten.”

The holiday falls at the perfect time to capture consumer attention. According to a Pitney Bowes BOXpoll survey, more than one-third (39 percent) of consumers plan to cash in their cards by the end of January and half (48 percent) by the end of February. An additional 30 percent say they’ll save the cards until they’re needed, assuming they remember they have them.

“Gift cards are an important part of the holiday season and continue to be a popular item to gift to family and friends,” says Katherine Cullen, senior director of industry and consumer insights for the National Retail Federation. “They provide a wonderful opportunity to support your favorite restaurant or retailer or treat yourself to a new shopping experience. Everyone deserves a little retail therapy after the holidays.”

National Use Your Gift Card Day is supported by a growing list of merchants, including:

  • Ace Hardware
  • Applebee's
  • Bonefish Grill
  • Carrabba's Italian Grill
  • Home Chef
  • Levenger
  • Macy's
  • Melting Pot
  • Metro Diner
  • Maurices
  • Panera Bread
  • Smashburger
  • The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
  • White Castle

Bakeries and other foodservice establishments can remind their customers through social media to use the gift cards purchased from their stores. Not only does this provide value to the user, but it also encourages future visits to stores.