Gift Cards Skyrocketing in Popularity for Holidays

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Shoppers plan to spend more than ever on gift cards this holiday season, thanks to retailers providing increasingly creative ways for gift cards to be personalized and delivered, according to the National Retail Federation's (NRF) 2012 holiday consumer spending survey, conducted by BIGinsight. Results show that 81.1 percent 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 10-year history of the survey. Total spending on gift cards is predicted to reach $28.79 billion.

Data from NRF's first holiday survey released in October shows that 59.8 percent of consumers polled would like to receive gift cards this year, up from 57.7 percent in 2011.

"Retailers are pulling out all the stops this year to make their gift cards personal, convenient and desirable," stated 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 are expected to spend an average of $43.75 on each card they buy, and men are expected to outspend women on gift cards with an average of $172.98 vs. women's $141.66, continuing the trend of previous years.

Of the surveyed shoppers, 11.2 percent will purchase friends or family members a gift card for an online merchant; 18.1 percent for a coffee shop; 39.1 percent for a department store; 20.8 percent for a book store; 12.6 percent for a grocery store/gas station; 14.2 percent for a discount store; and 33.3 percent for a restaurant.

"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."

Convenience and speed are the reasons for 21.1 percent of gift givers to choose gift cards over traditional gifts, but practicality is the main motivation, as 44.7 percent said they will buy gift cards to allow the recipient to select their own gift. This is down slightly from the 46.4 percent who said the same last year.

The NRF 2012 holiday spending survey polled 9,383 consumers to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the winter holidays. It was conducted for by BIGinsight for NRF from Nov. 1-6, 2012, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent.

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