62% of shoppers want a gift card

The popularity of gift cards continues to rise as 62 percent of shoppers said they would like to receive a gift card this holiday season, making it the most requested gift item for the eighth year in a row. Shoppers are expected to spend $31.74 billion on gift cards this year, according to an October National Retail Federation survey.

The average shopper buying a gift card will spend over $172 on cards, up from more than $163 last year. Per card, a consumer will spend on average $47.87. Total spending on gift cards has increased 83 percent since the survey began in 2003.

"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." 

A go-to gift, adults over the age of 65 will spend the most on gift cards, around $204.59. Young adults, ages 18-24, will spend the least amount, about $113.75. And men plan to spend more than women on gift cards, over $180 versus $165.

Shoppers purchase gift cards for convenience and to allow recipients to select their own gift.

Of those surveyed, 37.7 percent will get a gift card from a department store; 34 percent a card to a meal or restaurant; 20.6 percent to a coffee shop; 18.1 percent for entertainment such as a theatre; and 18.9 percent will give gift cards to electronics stores.

Gift cards might just be the perfect gift idea for the 45.6 percent of holiday shoppers who haven't started shopping yet. That number is only slightly up from 2013, in which 46.2 percent of consumers hadn't yet started, the lowest in the survey's seven-year history.

The NRF is projecting $616.9 billion in holiday sales for 2014, and retailers are expecting a big increase in online sales—86 percent in year-over-year holiday sales, according to a ChannelAdvisor multichannel e-commerce study. And 20 percent of those online sales will be made on mobile.

For more:
-See this National Retail Federation press release

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