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A new wave of after-Christmas sales

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KAI RYSSDAL: Americans are once again heading to the Internet in droves for their holiday shopping needs. This time, though, they are selling, not buying. As in auctioning those gifts off on sites like eBay rather than returning them to stores. Experts say today could be the biggest day of the year for online re-gifting. From Washington, Jeremy Hobson has more.


JEREMY HOBSON: It's the first post-holiday Monday and people are back to work with their speedy Internet connections.

In Wake Forest, N.C., Brian Sanders is trying to sell a black sweater. His parents gave it to him for Christmas but he already has one.

BRIAN SANDERS: I didn't have a receipt or anything, and I didn't have the heart to, you know, tell my parents that they had gotten me something I didn't need. So I just decided to resell it.

He says it retails for around 20 bucks. He's selling it on Craigslist for $12. It's the low end of a growing market that stretches from sweaters to flat screen TVs.

Marsha Collier wrote the book "eBay for Dummies."

MARSHA COLLIER: A lot of times you really don't know what store the item came from, so what you do is sell it for whatever you can get for it because certainly whatever money you get is more than you have when you have a gift that you don't want.

Collier says, increasingly, people can't be bothered to go back to the store and stand in the returns line. Or try to use gift cards they don't want. So they simply resell.

KATHLEEN SEIDERS: It is a secondary market. No doubt about it.

That's Boston College Marketing Professor Kathleen Seiders. She says when people pawn off gift cards that never would have been used, retailers feel the pain.

SEIDERS: So many people never redeem their gift cards. It's an enormous bonus for retailers. But if people are selling them online to people who will be redeeming them, then that really puts the retailers at a loss.

But the retailer's loss can be the consumer's gain. Especially when you can get a $200 gift card for $120.

I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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