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Holiday gift card purchases explode fueled by e-commerce

gift card in Santa's hand

The increase in holiday spending on gift cards far outpaced overall seasonal growth.

According to a new study from global branded payments provider Blackhawk Network, consumers spent 7% more on gift cards during the 2019 holiday season than in 2018. This more than doubled the estimated 3.4% increase in overall holiday retail sales reported by Mastercard Spending Pulse.

The growth was supported by a 4.5% increase in digital gift card sales. Digital gift cards accounted for nearly 20% of holiday gift card sales in 2019. Blackhawk’s research also found 23% of surveyed respondents reported receiving digital gift cards.

Other top findings from Blackhawk Network's 2019 holiday gift card research studies include:
•    53% of consumers surveyed plan to use their gift cards right away to take advantage of sales after the holidays.

•    Nearly three out of five consumers surveyed plan to spend more than the value of their gift card with more than half of consumers (52%) planning to spend as much as $30 more.

"The popularity of gift cards cannot be overstated; 80% of consumers reported receiving a digital or physical gift card for the 2019 holidays, making the cards a significant source of revenue for retailers. I expect that post-holiday gift cards redemptions will drive an economic impact for retailers in early 2020," said Theresa McEndree, VP of marketing at Blackhawk Network. 

Healthy gift card sales come just in time for the newest retail holiday - “National Use Your Gift Card Day,” which will be held on Jan. 18 at participating retailers and restaurants nationwide.

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