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Tabi is closing all of its Canadian outlets. (CBC)

Shoppers in P.E.I. are discovering that their gift cards for Tabi stores are suddenly worthless.

The Canadian retailer specializing in women's clothing filed for bankruptcy earlier this month and announced it is liquidizing its remaining 76 stores across the country. 

A Charlottetown woman who tried to use her $50 Christmas present in the city this week told CBC News staff told her it would not be honored. 

She was told to consult the receiver overseeing Tabi's bankruptcy. If there is money, she might get hers back.

Gift card laws don't help

P.E.I. has new provincial gift card legislation, but it doesn't protect consumers when a business is in bankruptcy. Steven Dowling, counsel for justice and public safety, said the legislation provides some protection, but not in cases such as the Tabi gift cards.

"We don't take jurisdiction for priority over, for example, creditors in a bankruptcy situation. What this legislation does, and what similar legislation across the country does, is provide minimum standards for consumers such as a prohibition on expiry dates for gift cards," he said.

The Consumers' Association of Canada says it did try to get that kind of protection added across the country.

It wanted provinces to force companies to put money into trust so consumers would still be able to use their cards if a company was going out of business.

The association suggests people give cash instead of gift cards to avoid these types of situations.