Eight in Ten Holiday Shoppers Giving $28 Billion In Gift Cards

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. The NRF holiday survey found that gift cards remain the most requested holiday gift, marking the fifth year in a row gift cards have topped consumers’ wish lists.

NRF President and CEO, Matthew Shay, says “... 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, spending an average of $164.24 versus women’s $147.06.
When it comes to which gift cards people will buy this holiday season, shoppers say they will give their friends or family members a gift card to a:

  • Department store (38.7%),
  • Restaurant (33.8%)
  • Night at the movies or music event (18.2%.)
  • Book stores (19.8%),
  • Coffee shops (15.9%)
  • 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. 19.4% say they will choose the cards because they are more convenient, as they are easier and faster to buy.

BIGresearch Consumer Insights Director, Pam Goodfellow, concludes that “... consumers will combine (both) sentiment and bells and whistles on their gift cards... whether it’s personalized with a video or comes in the form of a mobile or e-gift card... “

Though, for eight in 10 Americans, gift cards serve as an ideal gift option, 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%)
  • Would rather buy items on sale to stretch their dollar (9.1%.)

Gift cards offer many great benefits for both gift givers and receivers, concludes the report. With 24.4% of shoppers expected to buy Visa/Mastercard/American Express gift cards this year, NRF encourages shoppers to understand the differences between store-issued and bank-issued gift cards relating to the Credit Card Act, which governs gift card fees and expiration dates.

The survey polled 8,502 consumers and was conducted for NRF by BIGresearch from November 1-8, 2011. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent.

For additional information, please visit NRF here.

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