For the fifth year in a row, gift cards top Christmas wish lists. And the trend is only growing. Consumers are expected to spend an average $155.43 on the cards, the highest amount since 2007 and up from $145.61 last year. Total spending? A whopping $27.8 billion, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions survey conducted by BIGresearch, released last month.
A number of reasons affect the surge including, the ease of purchasing the cards online and then sending the cards via email, instant delivery of the cards through Facebook, personalized video and mobile options. Consumers interest in gift cards comes as overall holiday spending is expected to be down this year.
“When it comes to gift cards, holiday shoppers have the added advantage of convenience and creativity on their side this year,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “With discretionary gifts expected to be popular, many consumers will view gift cards as an everyday value item.”
Not only will more people purchase gift cards this holiday season (80.2% compared to 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, shelling out an average of $164.24 versus women’s $147.06. People will buy an average 3.6 cards, on par with last year, with 80.2% reporting they would buy at least one.
Department stores will be the top recipients, with (38.7%) of shoppers reporting they will give a card to a friend or family member to shop at a store, followed by restaurants (33.8%) or an entertainment venue such as a night at the movies or music event (18.2%.) Others will buy gift cards to bookstores (19.8%), coffee shops (15.9%) and discount stores (13.0 %), the NRF study found.
Close to half of survey respondents said they would buy the cards so the recipient could choose their own gift. Another one in five said the cards are easier and faster to buy. There still are those shoppers, however, who find gift cards impersonal (26.1%), concerned about fees and expiration dates (17.4%) or because they’d rather buy items on sale to stretch their dollar (9.1%.)
Just over half (51.9%) said they would use Internet access at work to shop, that’s up from 42.8% in 2006.
Methodology: The survey polled 8,502 consumers and was conducted for NRF by BIGresearch from Nov.1 to Nov. 8, 2011. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0%.