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Consumer Trends
Holiday Shoppers to Spend More than $31 Billion on Gift Cards This Year, According to NRF Survey
For immediate release
November 13, 2014

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WASHINGTON, November 13, 2014 – The growth in gift card popularity is irrefutable, and this holiday season spending on tiny plastic or digital gift cards will top all previous records. According to NRF’s Gift Card Spending Survey, the average person buying gift cards will spend $172.74, up from $163.16 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $31.74 billion.* In an October NRF survey 62 percent of shoppers said they would like to receive a gift card, making gift cards the most requested gift item eight years in a row.

“No longer impersonal or only about convenience, gift cards have become the perfect, practical gift item for millions of holiday shoppers,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “And, as the most requested gift item for eight years in a row, we’re sure there will be plenty of happy individuals this holiday season who can look forward to treating themselves to something shiny and new come January when retailers start to offer promotions on fresh new merchandise.” 

According to the survey, shoppers will spend an average of $47.87 per card, up from $45.16 last year. Total spending on gift cards has increased 83 percent since NRF began tracking consumers’ intentions to buy gift cards as holiday gifts in 2003.

Gift cards are a go-to gift for consumers of all ages; the survey found adults 65+ will spend the most on gift cards at an average of $204.59. Young adults between 18-24 years old will spend the least at an average of $113.75. Additionally, men plan to spend significantly more than women on gift cards ($180.81 vs. $165.09 respectively).  

When asked why they are planning to buy gift cards this holiday season, more than half (51.8%) of shoppers said that gift cards allow the recipient to select their own gift, up from 43.1 percent last year and the highest since NRF started asking the question in 2010. Additionally, one-quarter (25.6%) said gift cards are easier and faster to buy, and 3.8 percent said this helps them stick to their holiday budget.

“These days, shoppers simply love the idea of gifting someone they care about with a little ‘free money’ in the form of a gift card,” said Prosper’s Principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow. “Consumers young and old want to find the best way possible to create a happy holiday experience for their loved ones, and gift cards are a great option every time.”

There are a plethora of options for shoppers when it comes to what type of card to get, and it is clear department stores, restaurants and coffee shops are among the most popular choice for gift givers.  According to the survey 37.7 percent of gift card buyers will give their loved ones a gift card from a department store, and 34 percent will give their friends and family the gift of a meal at a restaurant. One in five (20.6%) will pick up coffee shop gift cards, 18.1 percent will give the gift of entertainment, such as a movie theatre gift card, and 18.9 percent will give gift cards to electronics stores.

About the Survey

The NRF 2014 Gift Card Spending Survey was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the winter holidays. The survey polled 6,593 consumers and was conducted for NRF by Prosper Insights & Analytics, November 3-10, 2014. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

Prosper Insights and Analytics delivers executives timely, consumer-centric insights from multiple sources. As a comprehensive resource of information, Prosper represents the voice of the consumer and provides knowledge to marketers regarding consumer views on the economy, personal finance, retail, lifestyle, media and domestic and world issues. www.ProsperDiscovery.com

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF’s This is Retail campaign highlights the industry’s opportunities for life-long careers, how retailers strengthen communities, and the critical role that retail plays in driving innovation. www.nrf.com.

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