Americans Will Pony Up $40 billion on Gift Cards This Season

One reason for the rise in popularity of gift cards: "The stigma of the gift card being a thoughtless gift is gone," said NRF spokesman Scott Krugman. "People love getting them." (IBD report). One advantage of gift cards to retailers is that they prolong the holiday shopping season well past Christmas. 

Gift cards by the numbers:

NRF Survey:

  • Gift card sales this holiday season are projected to rise 6.3% from last year to $24.81billion, according to a National Retail Federation survey conducted by BIGresearch. 
  • Nearly 80% of those polled plan on buying at least one gift card. The average consumer will spend 32% more on gift cards than in 2005.

ICSC Survey:

  • An International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) survey shows that Americans will spend 13% to 15% of their total holiday budget on gift cards, says Michael Niemira, the group's chief economist. That's up from 13.1% in 2005. 
  • Based on ICSC calculations, Americans will pony up as much as $40 billion on gift cards this season. Last year the figure was closer to $30 billion.
  • In the ICSC survey, 79% of those polled said they buy gift cards for convenience.
  • ICSC estimates that about 40% of gift card redemptions are in January, which is typically a low-volume month in the retail industry.

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