In fact, American Express says that last year alone it sold more gift cards than in all previous years combined. While marketing to support the new gift cards will be concentrated in the fourth quarter, according to an American Express spokesperson, a special promotion tied to the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival is planned for the new "Especially for Movie Lovers Gift Card."
Launched earlier this week alongside two other special occasion gift cards--one for dining, the other for bride and groom--American Express is looking to tap into what it calls growing customer demand for year-round gift-card giving.
Citing independent research by Mercator Advisory Group in Waltham, Mass., American Express said sales of gift cards in the November-December time frame decreased from 43% in 2004 to 30% last year. The flattening of annual spending on gift cards has been even more pronounced for "open" gift cards. "Clearly, consumers are warming up to the use of open gift cards for all gift-giving occasions," says Tim Sloane, prepaid analyst at Mercator.
In 2004, only one of every three gift cards was sold outside of the peak holiday shopping season in December. In 2006, more than half of American Express Gift Cards purchased were sold between January and November.
In support of the sixth annual Tribeca Film Festival, the Especially for Movie Lovers Gift Card and others are available for a buck off if purchased online between April 25 and May 31. The card giant, coming off a year of superlative growth, has replaced its "My life. My card." campaign with a new campaign that asks: "Are you a cardmember?" There is no gift card-specific execution in the new campaign, a spokesperson said yesterday. Editor's note: This article was amended since publication to reflect a minor correction.