Tis’ the Season for Gift Cards: NRF

Posted on by Patty Odell

Shoppers plan to spend more than ever before on gift cards over the holiday shopping season.

Retailers are providing increasingly creative ways for the cards to be personalized and delivered, making them an even more attractive gift option, according to NRF’s 2012 holiday consumer spending survey conducted by BIGinsight.

For example, customers at Chuck E. Cheese who purchase $30 or more in gift cards walk away with a free Chuck E. Cheese Holiday Stocking. Starbucks’ loyalists can’t wait to gift the latest festive designs (one at right) the coffee brewer has applied to its holiday gift cards. And anyone who purchases $100 worth of gift cards this holiday season at Outback Steakhouse locations or online, will receive a free $20 Bonus Card for gifting or to keep for themselves.

The vast majority of shoppers—81.1%—plan to purchase at least one gift card and will spend an average of $156.86 on the cards, the highest amount in the survey’s 10-year history.  Total spending on gift cards will reach $28.79 billion.

The cards are high on Christmas wish lists.

Some 59.8% of consumers said they’d like to receive gift cards this year, up from 57.7% last year, the survey said.

“Retailers are pulling out all the stops to make their gift cards personal, convenient and desirable,” said NRF CEO Matthew Shay in a statement. “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. Men continue to be the more popular gift-card buyers, spending $172.98 compared to $141.66 for women.

Which retail categories will benefit from all this spending? Some 33.3% will treat friends and family for a night out at a restaurant. Another 20.8% reported bookstores, followed by coffee shops (18.1%), discount stores (14.2%), grocery/gasoline stores (12.6%) and online merchants (11.2%).

Gift cards are turning the whole notion of gift giving on its head. Just under 45% of shoppers said they will buy the cards so the recipient can then go purchase something that they really want, although that number is down slightly from last year’s 46.4%. Another 21.1% gave up completely on trying to select a gift saying the cards are easier and faster than traditional gifts.


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