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Consumer Confidential: Gift cards lose shine, P&G says 'tweet,' home movies for the rich

December 9, 2010 | 10:20 am

Giftcardpic Here's your thanklessly Thursday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- Have gift cards lost their luster? Retail mavens say that with discounts aplenty and lots of inventory on store shelves, it's become easier to find that certain something for that certain someone. And that's making gift cards less attractive because people no longer have to be in the position of saying, "I didn't know what to get you so here's a little plastic card -- get what you want." Retail analyst Marshal Cohen says that with deals so chockablock, "why buy a $100 gift card when you can spend $40 to actually buy a gift -- or a few gifts for a total of $100?"

-- Procter & Gamble is saying sayonara to soap operas. After 77 years of sponsoring daytime sagas, the manufacturer of Ivory soap, Tide and other household products says it will switch instead to hanging out on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. "The digital media has pretty much exploded," says marketing chief Marc Pritchard. "It's become very integrated with how we operate. It's become part of the way we do marketing." The last P&G-produced soap opera, "As The World Turns," went off the air in September. So I guess we should watch out for "As the Tweet Turns."

-- Good news, movie fans: You can enjoy first-run flicks in the comfort of your own home for the low-low-low price tag of just $20,000 -- plus a mere $500 per film. That's how much a company called Prima Cinema is charging to set up a digital theater in your home and stock it with movies as soon as they hit proper theaters. With a price tag like that, you're probably wondering who could afford such a luxury. But Prima Cinema says it expects to install about 250,000 home theaters within five years. I guess that's what rich people will be doing with their hard-won tax cuts.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Gift cards aren't as hot this year as in past years. Credit: Michael Conroy / Associated Press