Gift Cards Will Reign Supreme This Holiday Season

Thanks to e‑gifting, instant delivery through Facebook, personalized video and even mobile options, gift cards have become unique gift ideas in their own right. According to NRF’s 2011 "Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions survey" conducted by BIGresearch, holiday shoppers are expected to spend an average of $155.43 on gift cards, the highest amount since 2007 and up from $145.61 last year. This holiday season, total spending on gift cards will reach $27.8 billion. NRF’s first holiday survey, released in October, found that gift cards remain the most requested holiday gift, marking the fifth year in a row gift cards have topped consumers’ wish lists. 

When it comes to gift cards, holiday shoppers have the added advantage of convenience and creativity on their side this year,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “With discretionary gifts expected to be popular, many consumers will view gift cards as an ‘everyday value item,’ affording their loved ones the option of buying something they really want or need.”

Not only will more people purchase gift cards this holiday season (80.2% vs. 77.3% in 2010), gift givers will also spend more on each card they buy. Shoppers will spend an average of $43.23 per card, up from $41.48 last year. Men will spend significantly more on gift cards than women this year, shelling out an average of $164.24 versus women’s $147.06.

When it comes to which gift cards people will buy this holiday season, most shoppers say they will give their friends or family members a gift card to a department store (38.7%), restaurant (33.8%) or an entertainment venue such as a night at the movies or music event (18.2%.) Others will buy gift cards to book stores (19.8%), coffee shops (15.9%) and discount stores (13.0 %).

Practicality wins as the most likely reason shoppers will buy gift cards this year as 46.4% say they will buy gift cards because it allows the recipient to select their own gift. Additionally, nearly one in five (19.4%) say they will choose the cards because they are more convenient, as they are easier and faster to buy.

Consumers won’t sacrifice sentiment for bells and whistles on their gift cards this year – instead, they will combine them,” said BIGresearch Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow. “Whether it’s personalized with a video or comes in the form of a mobile or e‑gift card, consumers still view these gifts as the perfect way to show their love and appreciation this holiday season.”

For eight in 10 Americans, gift cards serve as an ideal gift option. However, some still say they are less likely to buy gift cards this year because they seem impersonal (26.1%), are concerned about fees and expiration dates (17.4%) or because they’d rather buy items on sale to stretch their dollar (9.1%.)

[Source:  "2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions survey."  BIGresearch.  18 Nov. 2011.  Web.  2 Dec. 2011.]