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Press Releases

Eight in Ten Holiday Shoppers Plan to Give Gift Cards This Holiday Season, According to NRF

Average Spending Reaches 2007 Levels, Totaling $27.8 Billion.

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Washington, November 18, 2011 – Thanks to e-gifting, instant delivery through Facebook, personalized video and even mobile options, gift cards have become unique gift ideas in their own right. According to NRF’s 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions survey conducted by BIGresearch, holiday shoppers are expected to spend an average of $155.43 on gift cards, the highest amount since 2007 and up from $145.61 last year. This holiday season, total spending on gift cards will reach $27.8 billion.* NRF’s first holiday survey, released last month, found that gift cards remain the most requested holiday gift, marking the fifth year in a row gift cards have topped consumers’ wish lists.

“When it comes to gift cards, holiday shoppers have the added advantage of convenience and creativity on their side this year,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “With discretionary gifts expected to be popular, many consumers will view gift cards as an ‘everyday value item,’ affording their loved ones the option of buying something they really want or need.”

Not only will more people purchase gift cards this holiday season (80.2% vs. 77.3% in 2010), gift givers will also spend more on each card they buy. Shoppers will spend an average of $43.23 per card, up from $41.48 last year. Men will spend significantly more on gift cards than women this year, shelling out an average of $164.24 versus women’s $147.06.

When it comes to which gift cards people will buy this holiday season, most shoppers say they will give their friends or family members a gift card to a department store (38.7%), restaurant (33.8%) or an entertainment venue such as a night at the movies or music event (18.2%.) Others will buy gift cards to book stores (19.8%), coffee shops (15.9%) and discount stores (13.0 %).

Practicality wins as the most likely reason shoppers will buy gift cards this year as 46.4 percent say they will buy gift cards because it allows the recipient to select their own gift. Additionally, nearly one in five (19.4%) say they will choose the cards because they are more convenient, as they are easier and faster to buy.

“Consumers won’t sacrifice sentiment for bells and whistles on their gift cards this year – instead, they will combine them,” said BIGresearch Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow. “Whether it’s personalized with a video or comes in the form of a mobile or e-gift card, consumers still view these gifts as the perfect way to show their love and appreciation this holiday season.”

For eight in 10 Americans, gift cards serve as an ideal gift option. However, some still say they are less likely to buy gift cards this year because they seem impersonal (26.1%), are concerned about fees and expiration dates (17.4%) or because they’d rather buy items on sale to stretch their dollar (9.1%.)

Gift Card Tips

As the most requested gift this year, gift cards offer many great benefits for both gift givers and receivers. With 24.4 percent of shoppers expected to buy Visa/Mastercard/American Express gift cards this year, NRF encourages shoppers to understand the differences between store-issued and bank-issued gift cards and use that information before making shopping decisions. Most importantly, consumers should read about the Credit CARD Act, which governs gift card fees and expiration dates.

The NRF 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the winter holidays. The survey polled 8,502 consumers and was conducted for NRF by BIGresearch from November 1-8, 2011. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent.

BIGresearch® consumer intelligence provides analysis of behavior in areas of products and services, retail, financial services, automotive and media. The Consumer Intentions and Actions® Survey (CIA®) of 8,000+ respondents is conducted monthly and the Simultaneous Media Usage® Survey (SIMM®) of 15,000+ respondents is conducted semi-annually.

As the world’s largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF represents retailers of all types and sizes, including chain restaurants and industry partners, from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. Retailers operate more than 3.6 million U.S. establishments that support one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.5 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF’s Retail Means Jobs campaign emphasizes the economic importance of retail and encourages policymakers to support a Jobs, Innovation and Consumer Value Agenda aimed at boosting economic growth and job creation.