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Seventy percent of shoppers buying gift cards this year

Although other holiday retail signals are mixed, gift card spending is on the rise.

An interim holiday spending report released by Stored Value Solutions (SVS) found that spending on prepaid gift cards is on the rise, and that a significant majority (70 percent) of shoppers plan to purchase gift cards this holiday season. According to the report, 92 percent of shoppers plan to spend either the same amount or more on gift cards than they spent last year. And for the eighth straight year, gift cards have been the most desired holiday gift.

SVS said it has been tracking gift card data for nearly a decade, but this is the first report to be issued publicly on this sector of holiday retail spending, a category whose numbers are difficult to capture in the aggregate. The inaugural report provides detailed break-downs of gift card spend by sector, geography and demographics.

SVS’s research is tracked against actual real-time activity the company sees firsthand, including first-time gift card sales, increases or decreases in same-merchant sales, and average dollar amounts loaded onto the gift cards. “The actual real-time spending data we possess allows us to test the survey results, and at this time in the holiday season, we’re able to identify some close correlations between intention and actual activity," said SVS Managing Director and Executive VP Mark Schatz. "That’s always a hard thing to nail in a consumer survey.”

Other findings of the study include:

  • The average consumer plans to spend $231 on gift cards.
  • Men are planning to spend more on gift cards than women.
  • 90 percent of consumers that have finished some, but not most of their shopping (26–50 percent) are planning to purchase gift cards.
  • 58 percent of younger consumers (18-35) are planning to increase the amount they are spending on gift cards.