Gift Card Top Choice for Holiday Gift Giving

Gift Card UserGift cards continue to be a popular item for consumers. Javelin Strategy & Research reported in 2009 that 61 percent of U.S. consumers used gift or prepaid cards, and in 2011 there was a surge in websites charging 50 to 95 percent of the value of unused and unwanted gift cards, drawing consumers with discounted prices fit for most budgets. Now, as the holiday season is well underway and many shoppers are doing their last minute shopping, gift cards have found themselves at the top of the shopping list, fit for the stockings of those hard to buy for gift receivers and the company Secret Santa bag. In fact, 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.

To break it down, shoppers will spend an average of $43.23 per card, up from $41.48 last year. Men, in particular, will spend significantly more on gift cards than women this year, shelling out an average of $164.24 versus women’s $147.06. When it comes to which gift cards people will buy this holiday season, most shoppers say they will give their friends or family members a gift card to a department store (38.7 percent), restaurant (33.8 percent) or an entertainment venue such as a night at the movies or music event (18.2 percent.) Others will buy gift cards to bookstores (19.8 percent), coffee shops (15.9 percent) and discount stores (13.0 percent). “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.

Creativity? More Than Plastic Cards or Paper Certificates

As more families connect via digital means such as email and social networks, the traditional plastic card, or paper gift certificate, becomes more difficult to give. It doesn’t fit into their daily digital communication. However, even if you, the retailer, don’t have a digital gift card offering, there are a lot of things you can do to add a digital layer to your gift cards and certificates, and offer something special and creative to shoppers who need a good gift idea. For instance, even if you don’t have a way to personalize the card or certificate itself, you can provide an online forum for the giver to create a personalized environment for the recipient. Personalized environments include everything from personalizing an email sent by the retailer to the recipient, to creating a personal landing page and sending an email announcing the gift with a link to the personalized page. You don’t have to deliver the card or certificate online, but if you make announcing the gift a special occasion, it makes the gift itself feel more special, both for the giver and the recipient.

This piece has been adapted from an original article on