Gift-card sales expected to rise this holiday season

Washington, D.C. -- After going head-to-head with discounted holiday gifts such as luxury cashmere sweaters and appliances last year, gift cards are expected to emerge as winners this holiday season. According to NRF’s 2010 Gift Card Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGresearch, Americans will spend an average of $145.61 on gift cards, up from $139.91 last year. Total gift-card spending is expected to reach $24.78 billion.

“This holiday season we expect Americans to gravitate toward both sale and non-sale items, including gift cards, which in recent years have been passed up for heavily discounted merchandise,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “With people focusing less on price and more on value this holiday season, Americans may choose to buy gift cards due to their convenience and popularity among gift recipients.”  

Not only will more people purchase gift cards this holiday season, but the average amount spent on each card will increase as well ($41.48 versus $39.80 last year). According to the survey, 77.3% of shoppers will buy at least one gift card.

Most shoppers say they will give their friends or family members a gift card to a department store (39.2%) or restaurant (33.4%), but others will consider book stores (23.7%), electronics stores (19.0%), entertainment venues such as the movies (14.1%) and even coffee shops (13.9%).