Gift Cards Most Requested Gift for Fifth Straight Year

Author: Geoff Simon
Published: December 14, 2012 at 1:24 pm

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), about 58% of adults would like to receive a gift card this holiday. This marks the fifth straight year in which gift cards are the most requested holiday gift according to NRF's lastest consumer spending report. Total spending on gift cards this year is poised to reach $28.79 billion, with the average person spending $157 this year on gift cards alone, the highest figure since the NRF initiated the survey 10 years ago.

nrf chart most requested gifts

In terms of what outlets these gift cards are for, the same survey revealed that the largest number are for department stores at 39%, followed by restaurants at 33%, bookstores at 21%, coffee shops at 18%, discount stores at 14%, grocery stores/gas stations at 13%, and online retailers rounding it out at 11%.

"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."

And because retailers are not allowed to count gift cards until they are actually redeemed, retailers are going to be ratcheting up the post-holiday sales come January to try and entice consumers into redeeming their cards. This also happens to be the time when most retailers are also re-stocking inventory from the depleted holiday shopping, offering gift card holders a bigger selection of new items to choose from.

The Problem of Unused Gift Cards

And if you happen to still have gift cards left over from previous years, you're not alone. The Wall Street Journal estimates that between 2005 and 2011, $41 billion in gift cards went unused.  According to most state laws, unused gift cards are considered 'abandoned' property. And states make millions each year by requiring merchants to turn over unused gift card dollars to them under the guise of returning this 'abandoned' money to gift card purchasers.  

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Article Author: Geoff Simon

Geoff Simon is currently the owner/operator of Simon Search Marketing, a small search marketing firm in Los Angeles, CA. Previously Geoff worked in a content optimization, search analyst role at Disney Interactive Media Group, Intermark Group and G2 Direct & Digital. …

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