A gift registry is a particular type of wish list. Typically, when a recipient compiles a list of items they wish to receive and then hands it out to family and friends, they have created a wish list. A registry, on the other hand, is made public, and is limited to the stock of a given retailer. The retailer will maintain the list for the registrant and make sure that items are removed from the list as they are purchased. Retailers will often not divulge who has purchased the registered items. In 2004, North American Shopping Centers (notably Galleria Edina) began to extend this concept by offering registries that had access to multiple shops within individual Centers. In the United Kingdom a gift registry is frequently referred to as a 'gift list' and has become an established part of British weddings, with the service often provided by most department stores.
A managed registry system has several goals.
- It facilitates communication between gift givers and receivers. Recipients can compile a gift registry and make it available to anyone who will present them with a gift. Gift givers can then be certain that they are purchasing items that the receiver will appreciate.
- A registry can prevent gift givers from duplicating gifts when it is managed efficiently. To accomplish this, the retailer should remove each item from the registry as it is purchased.
- The registry process should allow gift purchasers to be discreet about what they have bought. This is so the person receiving the gifts will not know who purchased which items until they are surprised at the time of gift giving.
- The registry system should benefit the retailer by bringing customers to their store where they can purchase products that the merchant carries
- The store is often able to deliver all of the gifts to the customers at a mutually convenient time after the event, for both the ease of the givers and the recipient.
- One form of retailer registry is the bridal registry whereby newly engaged couples would go to "register a china pattern" so guests to the wedding would know which style of dishes to buy for the newly married couple.
- Online gift registries are becoming a popular alternative to store-specific registries due to their flexibility in adding gifts, purchase coordination and social networking capabilities.
- Gift registries are often used for other important events such as anniversaries, birthdays, civil ceremonies, and baby showers. Young couples also use the service purchasing their first house to allow friends and family to gift important items of furniture and domestic items.
- "MALL LANDLORDS TEST CENTERWIDE GIFT REGISTRATION". icsc.org. 2004-05-01. Retrieved 2011-08-02.
- "Royal wedding: What's the point of a gift list?". bbc.co.uk. 2011-04-27. Retrieved 2013-04-15.