Consumers Adore Gift Cards

The National Retail Federation’s Holiday Consumer Intentions & Actions survey says “the popularity of gift cards has increased at a remarkable rate, “ and will hit another record level this year, thanks partly to personalization options now available from many retailers.

The trade group’s fourth annual survey, conducted by BIGresearch, found gift card sales will increase to $24.81 billion this holiday season, about a third more than the $18.48 billion in sales recorded in 2005. Moreover, the average consumer will spend around $116.51 per gift card, up from the average of $88.03 in 2005, according to the survey.

A separate survey by Deloitte & Touche shows consumers are buying more gift cards -- an average of 4.6 cards per person compared with 3.9 last year.

“Gift cards have taken a lot of the stress out of holiday shopping, making them a favorite among people of all ages,” said Phil Rist, Vice President of Strategy for BIGresearch. “Whether they are a stand-alone gift or an addition to a gift basket, gift cards please even the most fickle people on holiday shopping lists.”

Electronics retail giants such as Best Buy and Circuit City should see heavy gift card activity as consumers purchase big-ticket items such as plasma televisions. Electronic gifts will account for a quarter of all holiday sales, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, with cell phones and game consoles leading the pack.

The NRF 2006 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey was conducted November 1-November 8, 2006. It polled 8,090 consumers. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent.