There can be no denying the shocking growth in popularity of gift cards. The market has grown by leaps
and bounds since the first gift cards were offered in 1994 by Neiman and Blockbuster. This year
estimated gift card sales are $131 B, up 6% from last year. In fact, since 2010 gift card sales have grown
by 31%! FUN FACT: In 1999 (The 1st year cardhub.com began tracking gift card sales.) total sales were only
According to Deloitte’s 2015 Holiday Survey, gift cards will be the 2
trailing clothes by only 2%. 46% of gifters plan on giving a gift card this holiday season, up 3% from
last year. (The NRF reports that for the 9
“shoppers” saying they want a gift card.) Consumers who buy them will spend and avg of $153, which marks the
first drop in avg spending on gift cards since 2009 ($172.74 avg in 2014). 2 is the most common number of
gift cards to be given this year as 28.6% of buyers say they will buy 2 gift cards this season. A whopping
15.4% say they will buy 6 or more, WOW!! The most popular gift cards to be given are to Restaurants
(34.8%) followed by Dept Stores (34.4%) and generic Visa/MC/AMEX/Disc gift cards (22.7%).
While tangible plastic gift cards are still the norm, 32% of gift cards will be given digitally. Digital gift
cards offer the advantages of immediate delivery, the inability to be lost as well as being environmentally
Speaking of losing gift cards, spillage (or unused gift cards) is expected to remain the same as last year with
$1B± in gift cards going unused. While 58% of gift card recipients plan to redeem their gift cards within
1 mo, another 21% are unsure as to when they will use them. The result is that $30B worth of gift cards
are lying dormant in their owner’s drawers, wallets, and purses. (WFLA Channel 8 NBC affiliate).
It is easy to see how gift cards could be construed as the “lazy man’s” gift to give. How many last minute
shoppers have been saved by running into a gas station or grocery store and buying a handful of gift
cards? From a gifter though the real VALUE of a gift card may be that they are frequently purchased as a
way to TRIM consumers gifting budget (cardhub.com). In 2011 27.1% said they bought them to trim their
budgets vs 13.4% who were too lazy to shop.
At least some part of recent growth may be attributed to legislation that passed to eliminate underhanded
business practices regarding gift cards. Prior to 2009, many gift cards contained hidden service charges and
fees for dormancy. The Fair Gift Card Act was introduced in 2009, and later that year the Credit Card
Accountability and Responsibility Act was passed into law to limit inactivity charges and service fees.
The act also set a minimum of a 5 yr expiration date for all gift cards or certificates. In 2010 gift certificates
sales broke a 2 yr period of negative growth with an increase of sales of 5%.
All in all, there are many reasons to buy a gift card this holiday season, whether it’s b/c you’d rather let
giftees make their own decisions, or trimming budgets or maybe you are just plain lazy.
No matter what the reason one thing is for sure, Americans LOVE their gift cards.
Please appropriately attribute. ©THX to, Vidhya Natarajan, Ian Young, Matt Grove, & Vinnie Paoletta for all your help & THX
nd most popular gift given this year
th consecutive year gift cards are the most wanted holiday gift with 58.8% of