Employee discounts, office swag and product freebies are the gifts that keep on giving this season.
These holiday shoppers are working their employee discounts.
Kohl’s cashier Matthew Dunston, 18, can treat everyone on his list thanks to his 15% discount at the one-stop-shop, which can be stacked with Kohl’s coupons to slash regular prices up to 65%.
“I’m doing a lot of really good deals here – lots of clothes, cooking utensils, Beats speakers, jewelry,” Dunston, from Marina, Calif., told Moneyish. In fact, his shopping is already wrapped for the season after a recent spree where he saved $1,300.
“I went Christmas shopping with my grandma, and we ran up almost $1,000 in clothing alone – but after my employee discount kicked in, we only spent $400. It was really cool,” he said. “And especially with my family’s current financial state, which has been tough this year, I really appreciate that I can afford to get everyone something.”
Victoria’s Secret staffer Norma Ortega, 21, has saved about $100 so far using her 30% discount, which is good for the lingerie shop and sister store Bath & Body Works. “I got my little sister a pajama set from PINK, and my mom a couple of mist sprays from Victoria’s Secret,” she told Moneyish, admitting that the discount was what convinced her to start working there a month ago in the first place.
Even Broadway star Mandy Gonzales, who plays Angelica Schuyler in “Hamilton,” recently told Page Six that, “For Christmas, there’s no pressure to get my family expensive gifts . . . I get them all ‘Hamilton’ tickets and ‘Hamilton’ swag. This Is the best job in the world.” Work, work!
The employee discount can be a life saver during the holidays – especially considering shoppers are expected to drop between $678.75 billion and $682 billion on gifts this year, up 3.6% to 4% over last year, according to the National Retail Federation. And 1 in 4 Americans expect to spend the next six months paying off the credit card debt racked up from buying presents, food and decorations, according to a Varo Money survey.
Which is why many retailers lure seasonal shoppers to work for them by teasing their employee discounts ahead of the holidays, such as Target’s 10% discount on all purchases (and 20% on certain produce and clothing), or Gap stores giving 30% off at Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic stores, and 25% off at Athleta.
Some companies get even more creative. Sadia Sanders, 45, who works at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, has been giving $20 to $50 gift cards from Amazon, Macy’s and Bed Bath & Beyond, or theme park tickets to Universal Studios and Knott’s Berry Farm, thanks to her company’s generous rideshare rewards program. Workers can earn 75 points each time they carpool to the office, and 6,500 points are good for a $50 voucher at the company store, which sells these tickets and gift cards.
“I usually have enough points for $100 to $150 in vouchers every year, and I give these to relatives that I don’t see very often,” she told Moneyish. “Or when I meet with my sorority sisters to do our annual gift exchange, I don’t have to worry about shopping around for something. These gift cards are perfect for that.”
Some workplaces can also be swag goldmines, like beauty editors who receive so much free makeup and skincare products that they can throw together gift baskets for family and friends. When a Racked editor tallied the retail value of her swag for a year, it added up to $64,000. George Clooney used to give his awards show gift bags away, and even auctioned one off to charity for $45,000.
But while nearly 80% of Americans surveyed by BestBlackFriday.com say regifting is perfectly acceptable, handing out generic office swag or giving everyone the same Barnes & Noble totes every holiday can get tacky faster than you can say “bah humbug.” So etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore gave Moneyish a few tips.
- Personalize it. Just because you get really cheap travel mugs at Starbucks, or deeply discounted gift sets from Bath & Body Works, doesn’t mean these gifts are a great fit for everyone. “A coffee mug with a company logo isn’t personal – you should find them the perfect mug in a color that they would like,” said Whitmore. “Or if they don’t like strong smells, or they have sensitive skin, then that scented body lotion might not be for them. A gift should be something tailored to the person, that they would want to buy for themselves.”
- Make sure it hasn’t expired. Don’t regift someone a box of cookies that’s months old and hard as rocks, makeup that’s past its prime, or a gift card or pass that’s no longer valid. “You want to give something that they can actually use and enjoy,” said Whitmore.
- Destroy the evidence that this is a regift or freebie. “I have opened gifts that had someone else’s name engraved on them, or that came with a card addressed to someone else, which was pretty tacky,” she said. And if the leather passport holder or umbrella you’re repackaging is stamped with a corporate logo, the cat’s out of the bag that it’s swag. But if you ‘fess up upfront, that this is a freebie you thought the person would enjoy, it could still make a thoughtful gift.
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