The number of consumers purchasing gift cards has increased significantly over the past six months, according to a survey by the National Research Network (NRN) and The Hartman Group.
Over half (57%) of American consumers say they purchased at least one gift card within the past year, an increase of 5% from six months ago. Surveyed during a time when the national unemployment rate is just under 9% and the economic recession continues, gift cards are apparently continuing to sell.
The top three most purchased types of gift cards are those from big box retailers, restaurants and department stores.
"Surprisingly even with the unfavourable economic conditions almost half (48%) of gift card recipients spend more than the amount on the gift card," said Keith Maladra, NRN's vice president of consumer intelligence. "We found that gift cards are still encouraging personal spending. In fact, far less (16%) of gift card recipients spend less than the amount on the gift cards."
According to Michelle Barry, Ph.D., senior vice president for The Hartman Group, "For marketers in retail, restaurant and financial services, the opportunity to make the gift card experience more meaningful - both in giving and receiving - is substantial."
However the report also found that, while more American consumers are purchasing gift cards, the average amount per gift card has decreased. Consumers who purchased a gift card within the past year spent an average of US$46 per gift card compared to an average of US$52 between September 2007 and August 2008.
The survey report, entitled 'Gift Card Buying Trends', actually compares shopper intentions before the holiday shopping season and their actual purchase behaviour after the 2008 holiday season. The report is available to purchase from the Hartman Group - click here (US$1,250; 54 pages covering the US market).