Every year millions of Americans file their taxes with the knowledge that Uncle Sam is going to be sending them some money back. While many plan to pay down debt or put the money away for a rainy day, there are still plenty who will take their refunds and go shopping.
According to the National Retail Federation, 10.7 percent of those receiving a tax refund plan to spend it on a major purchase such as furniture or a new TV. One-quarter will use the money they get back to help them pay for everyday expenses.
The Internal Revenue service, via The Toledo Blade, has already sent out refunds in the neighborhood of $206 billion, with filers getting an average check of $2,800.
"You get 20 bucks, you're not thinking all the things you can buy with it," Gbenga Ajilore, an economics professor at the University of Toledo, told The Blade. "But you get a $2,000 check, that opens up the possibilities of things you could conceivably buy."
Retailers know that, while many Americans file much earlier than April 15 and an increasing number are submitting their taxes via electronic channels, today's date is symbolic in the American psyche.
A joint promotion between Amazon.com and TurboTax offers users of the tax software an additional 10 percent added to their refund if they take it in the form of a gift card from the e-tailer.
A USA Today piece pointed to a number of "freebie" promotions tied to the day, including a coupon offer from Office Depot to shred up to five pounds of documents between now and April 29. Hard Rock Café locations around the U.S. will give away free entrees to patrons who perform a complete song between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. today. The chain expects to give away "thousands" of entrees costing up to $14.95 each.
Are tax refund dollars more or less important to retailers today than they have been in the past?