Skip to main content

Survey: Holiday gift-card spending to dip


Washington, D.C. A survey released Thursday by the National Retail Federation found that, while gift cards remain the most requested holiday item, shoppers are expected to pull back on buying them again this year.

According to NRF’s 2009 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, holiday shoppers plan to spend slightly less on gift cards, with the average person spending $139.91, compared with $147.33 last year. Total spending on gift cards is expected to reach $23.63 billion.

“In a year when many people have pulled back on everything but the necessities, people love the idea of receiving a gift card to select something they’ve had an eye on,” said Tracy Mullin, NRF president and CEO. “Though gift cards never go on sale, many retailers are offering incentives on these popular items to help bargain-hunters stretch their budgets even farther.”

As well, gift recipients can expect cards with lower monetary values this year. The average value per card this year will be $39.80, compared with $40.54 in 2008. Consistent with last year, 77.2% of people will buy at least one card this holiday season.

Twenty-two percent of gift givers say the main reason for not buying gift cards is because they are too impersonal, while one in 10 (12.6%) are concerned about expiration dates or fees and others would rather stretch their budget by buying items on sale (9.1%). Others worry that the recipient will lose it or never use it (5.3%), are concerned that the company will go out of business (5.6%) or aren’t sure which company to buy a card from (6.6%).

According to the survey, department store gift cards will be the most popular, with 38.4% of gift-givers planning to give at least one card from a department store. Gift cards to restaurants (33.4%), bookstores (24.4%), electronics stores (18.8%), and discount stores (16.3%) were also among shoppers’ favorites.

In addition, nearly one-fourth (22.1%) of gift-givers will give a gift card issued by a credit card or bank.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds