FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Retail Consumer Alliance (RCA)
209 Fayetteville Street, Raleigh, NC 27601
Contact: Ann Edmondson
Raleigh, NC (December 7, 2018) – North Carolina retailers are in excited anticipation of the holiday season, but they also want to remind their customers to be smart and safe as they shop.
The Retail Consumer Alliance Foundation (RCA), the charitable arm of the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association (NCRMA), shares some simple, but important steps to help consumers make sure they are actually getting what they are buying.
For the 12th year in a row, gift cards are the most requested item on wish lists and will be the second most purchased gift item – behind clothing and accessories. While gift cards may be the gift of choice for you, unfortunately they are also the gift of choice for thieves.
The primary way to ensure you are getting a gift card that is the correct value and will work when you gift it, is to buy from a legitimate source. Also, discount gift cards (sold below value) are tempting but be aware that they may have been compromised. For instance, they may have been stolen or exchanged for stolen goods. Gift cards are a great gift to give and receive but be smart and keep them secure.
Another recommendation from RCA is to be diligent when you are making online purchases. Time and convenience are precious commodities during the holiday season, but don’t put yourself at risk of having your identity stolen or having your credit card compromised.
There are usually red flags that things are amiss, so here are some things that should give you pause when you are shopping online:
- It’s cliché, but: If a price seems too good to be true, chances are, it is,
- spelling mistakes and grammatical errors on the online store’s site,
- online stores using a web-based email like Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo under their contact details as opposed to a company email account,
- online merchants asking you to email them your credit card information,
- words like “genuine,” “real,” or “authentic” being overused in product descriptions,
- using the phrase “inspired by” to get away with selling a fake,
- Also, check the product manufacturer’s website. Many companies will post details on their websites to alert customers about possible counterfeit products and how to detect fakes.
According to a survey by the National Retail federation, consumers plan to spend, on average, $1007.24 this year, which is up 4.1 percent from spending last year. Overall, holiday retail sales are expected to total around $720 billion.
With that much money in play, there are many who want to cash in on consumers’ lack of focus on details and desire to buy the perfect gift. So, in addition to RCA’s charge for consumers to shop smart and safe, they also encourage consumers to shop local businesses. Those trustworthy members of their community who employ your neighbors and friends and have a strong commitment to the towns where they live and operate. The holiday shopping season is an important time for small businesses and, for many, holiday sales help them end the year successfully.
Andy Ellen, president and general counsel of NCRMA, also wants encourage consumers to shop local stores for gift cards and other wish list items.
“I hope North Carolina consumers will support the local businesses that support what they care about in their community – their schools, their youth organizations, their Food Banks, and employing their neighbors. These are the brick and mortar stores, both independent and chain, who are engrained in every community across the state who, along with employing one out of every four North Carolinians and collecting the sales taxes that fund our roads and schools, also sponsor the little league team, high school band and school spirit night.”
The Retail Consumer Alliance Foundation (RCA) was organized in 2008 to foster strong community partnerships between consumers and the retail industry. Every year, the foundation funds an annual educational scholarship program that assists students who are working in the retail industry or students who have parents working in retail, by providing awards that pay for college tuition. The foundation also contributes annually to Feeding the Carolinas to support food banks in North and South Carolina
About the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association
The North Carolina Retail Merchants Association (NCRMA) is a nonprofit trade association organized in 1902 to improve the business climate for retailers in North Carolina. Over 115 years later, NCRMA remains the voice of the retail industry for North Carolina. NCRMA represents the interests of individual merchants before the General Assembly and serves as a vital link to state government. Its credibility lies in its longevity and commitment to serving the ever-changing needs of its members. The Association’s membership includes more than 25,000 stores from across the state whose business represents 75 percent of North Carolina’s retail sales volume. NCRMA serves both large and small retailers from multi-state chains to local “mom and pops” and all types of merchants including antique, apparel, art, automotive, book, carpet, department, drug, electronics, floral, furniture, grocery, hardware, jewelry, paint and variety stores. For more information, visit http://www.ncrma.org/.