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Gift cards poised for big holiday season amid inventory, shipping concerns

The most requested holiday gift for nearly 15 years is ready for another big year.

Eighty-three percent of consumers surveyed want to give a gift card instead of a physical gift this year, according to a forecast by global branded payments provider Blackhawk Network. Growing consumer concerns about slower delivery times and inventory issues are positioning the cards for another successful holiday season, the study said.

Surveyed shoppers plan on purchasing 15 gift cards on average, and expect to spend 41% of their holiday gifting budget, or $272 on average, on gift cards this year. This is a 27% increase from what consumers reported spending on gift cards last year.

The most popular gift card categories this holiday season will be dining/restaurant, multi-brand gift cards (gift cards for multiple brands) and grocery and mass merchant, according to the forecast. Additionally, shoppers surveyed expect to shop for their gift cards at mass merchandiser/big box stores, online retailers, grocery stores, online retailers and convenience stores.

“Our research shows that many consumers plan to buy more gifts and spend more money than they did in 2020, but there have been notable shifts in what consumers find important and how they are planning to navigate shipping delays and potential out-of-stock issues,” said Theresa McEndree, head of global marketing and brand, Blackhawk Network. For retailers, that means finding opportunities like preparing for early shoppers, providing a seamless digital gifting experience and highlighting gifts that give back to uniquely engage customers this holiday season when consumers’ pandemic shopping habits can either be cemented or will return to prior norms and preferences.”

Additional findings from Blackhawk’s “2021 Holiday Shopping Forecast” are below.

• Nearly a quarter (24%) of U.S. consumers surveyed say they will shop earlier this year due to concern over shipping delays (30%) or worry that the pandemic will impact their ability to shop (36%).

• A third of consumers (32%) surveyed planning to pay for their holiday gifts with gift cards and more than a quarter (26%) plan to pay with PayPal/Venmo. Four percent report are planning to pay for holiday gifts using cryptocurrency.

• Fifty-seven percent of surveyed shoppers plan to send gifts to those who’ve experienced hardships, and more than 60% are looking for ways to give back to causes this year, with 68% reporting they intend to purchase gift cards that benefit charitable causes.

[Read More: Accenture: In-store holiday shopping to return; average spend to rise]

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