More Than 80% of Consumers to Purchase at Least One Gift Card This Season

It’s the win-​win gift for givers and receivers, and this holiday season, shoppers plan to spend more than ever on the most flexible and convenient of gifts: a gift card. With retailers providing increasingly creative ways for gift cards to be personalized and delivered, NRF’s 2012 holiday consumer spending survey shows that 81.1% of shoppers will purchase at least one gift card and will spend an average of $156.86 on gift cards, the highest amount in the survey’s 10-​year history.  Total spending on gift cards will reach $28.79 billion. 

According to NRF’s first holiday survey, released in October, six in ten (59.8%) of those polled said they’d like to receive gift cards this year, up from 57.7% in 2011.

Retailers are pulling out all the stops this year to make their gift cards personal, convenient and desirable,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Savvy shoppers know they can purchase a much appreciated gift card with ease either in store, online or through their mobile device, and give their loved ones the option to buy something they really want or need.”

Consumers will spend an average of $43.75 on each card they buy. As in previous years, men plan to spend significantly more on gift cards than women, shelling out an average of $172.98 versus women’s $141.66.

When it comes to which gift cards people will buy this holiday season, more people than ever say they will give their friends or family members a gift card for an online merchant (11.2%) and coffee shops (18.1%). Others will buy gift cards to department stores (39.1%), book stores (20.8%), grocery/​gasoline stores (12.6%), and discount stores (14.2%). And 33.3% of shoppers will send friends and family for a night out with restaurant gift cards.

Gift cards are the perfect practical and personal gift, allowing the recipient to treat themselves to something nice, or even something they need,” said BIGinsight Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow. “Whether it’s a mobile card that consumers can use whenever it’s most convenient or one that includes video or audio, gift cards can still be extremely personal.”

More than one in five (21.1%) gift givers say they’ll buy gift cards because they are easier and faster than traditional gifts. But practicality comes out as the most likely reason shoppers will buy gift cards this year as 44.7% say they’ll buy gift cards because they allow the recipient to select their own gift (down from the 46.4% of people who said the same last year).

[Source:  "2012 Holiday Consumer Spending Survey."  BIGinsight/​National Retail Federation (NRF).  14 Nov. 2012.  Web.  14 Nov. 2012.]