Study: Digital, e-commerce gift card sales surge during holidays

Holiday shoppers flocked online in 2020, and purchased a lot of gift cards while they were connected.

According to the BrandedPay Post-Holiday spending report from global branded payments provider Blackhawk Network, digital gift card (e-gift) sales rose 80% overall e-commerce gift card sales increased nearly 40% during the 2020 holiday season. 

Analyzing consumer research and its own U.S. sales, Blackhawk found that surveyed consumers reported doing 68% of their holiday shopping online on average, higher than the anticipated 60% surveyed consumers reported before the holiday season. Following that trend, e-commerce gift card sales growth beat pre-holiday projections and more than tripled the 12% growth seen in 2019.

In addition, sales data from Blackhawk Network shows e-gift sales were up over 80% compared to 2019, surpassing the 74% year-over-year growth e-gift sales were hovering at before the holiday season.

Four in 10 (41%) consumers surveyed said the payment methods they used to purchase gifts in 2020 were different from those they have used in previous years. Nearly one in four shoppers surveyed reported using a mobile wallet for the first time during the 2020 holiday season, with 37% of those respondents saying they are likely to permanently adopt new payment methods they used to shop this year.

Half of surveyed consumers report they plan to use their gift cards within one month after the holiday, another 23% say they will use their gift cards in the next three to six months, and the average denomination for gift cards purchased this holiday season was about $45. Six in 10 surveyed shoppers plan to spend more than the value of their gift card.

"Brands that optimized their e-gift and gift card e-commerce experience won this holiday season,” said Theresa McEndree, global head of marketing and corporate brand, Blackhawk Network. “Digital adoption will continue and is here to stay. This stream of digital shoppers will benefit retail sales in the first quarter of the year. Nearly half of consumers surveyed expect to spend at least $25 more than the value of their gift cards—and many plan to spend them within the first few months following the holiday season."

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