DEFINITION of 'Breakage'

Revenue gained by retailers through unredeemed, expired or lost gift cards. Breakage refers to money received from gift cards but never redemeed by customers. In 2006 it was estimated that consumers lost over $8 billion annually due to breakage. Most retailers no longer place restrictions (i.e. dormancy fees, expiration dates, etc.) on their gift cards to eliminate the accounting uncertainty they create.


In 2007 the FTC settled a case it brought against Darden Restaurants for failure to disclose its gift cards dormancy fees and reached the same outcome in similar action it filed against Kmart. The rulings required both companies to reimburse customers who lost money due to the inadequately disclosed gift card fees.

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