Gift cards still a growing favourite for Christmas

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on December 6, 2006

Consumers are putting gift cards on their holiday wish lists and plan to spend more than the gift card's value when they redeem it, according to a survey in the United States by Accenture.

Nearly four out of ten respondents (36%) report that they prefer to receive a gift card than a gift, and almost half (48%) say they spend more than the value of the card. Almost two-thirds (64%) of respondents plan to use the cards to treat themselves to something they would not otherwise buy, while just one-third (33%) plan to use their gift cards to buy sale items. Just 23% intend to spend a gift card on necessities or practical items

Widely used
The survey, from Accenture, finds that gift cards are used widely. Almost three out of four survey respondents (72%) have given or been given gift cards, and most reported that those gift cards were for apparel, electronics and entertainment (books, movies and music).

The survey also reports that the vast majority (91%) of consumers purchase gift cards at the issuing store, against 16% who do so over the internet and 2% who buy them via telephone or mail order. One in five respondents (20%) said they spend more on a gift card than they would on a gift.

Convenience factor
Most respondents (57%) say that gift cards are more convenient than buying gifts and 51% said they purchase gift cards when they don't know what else to buy. More men (63%) buy gift cards out of convenience than women (53%). Men buy gift cards most often for electronics (36%), while women more often buy them for apparel (35%).

Nearly six in ten respondents (59%) who have received gift cards say they spend the full value of the card all at once, while 38% use them in two or three visits. Almost one-third (32%) spend their gift cards in one month or less and 45% of respondents said it takes them one to three months to spend them.

"Pre-owned" gift cards
The growing popularity of gift cards has created a secondary market in which consumers can sell cards they don't want at a discount. However, just 9% of respondents knew they could buy pre-owned gift cards at a discount. Nevertheless, 60% of respondents said that fraud concerns would prevent them from buying a previously owned gift card from a source other than a known merchant.

Other findings
The survey also found that:

  • One in two respondents spend US$26-US$50 on a gift card, while approximately one-third (32%) spend US$11-US$25;
  • Nearly three out of 10 respondents (29%) who live in or near a major city buy gift cards, compared with 19% of respondents in more rural areas;
  • More than four out of five respondents (83%) appreciate having design options on gift cards, but only 17% said they would be more likely to buy cards because of design selections.

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