Gift card purchases increase, consumer shopping data shows

CHICAGO The number of consumers purchasing gift cards has increased significantly over the past six months, shopping survey experts announced.

The National Research Network and consumer anthropologists The Hartman Group reported that over half of American consumers (57%) said they purchased at least one gift card within the past year, an increase of 5% from six months ago (when last measured). Surveyed during a time when the national unemployment rate is staggering, under 9% and the economic recession continues to linger, gift cards continue to sell. The top three most purchased gift cards are big box retailers, restaurants and department stores.

“Surprisingly even with the unfavorable economic conditions almost half (48%) of gift card recipients spend more than the amount on the gift card,” said Keith Maladra, VP Consumer Intelligence at NRN. “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.”

The report finds 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 $46 per gift card, on average, compared with $52 spent on average per gift card between September 2007 and August 2008. Gift Card Buying Trends compares shopper intentions pre-holiday shopping season with their actual purchase behavior post-holiday 2008.

“Gift cards are an important element of how gifting itself is changing,” said Michelle Barry, Ph.D., SVP at The Hartman Group. “For diverse marketers in retail, restaurant and financial services, the opportunity to make the gift card experience more meaningful—both in giving and receiving—is substantial.”

For more information on the NRN-Hartman Group Gift Card Buying Trends: Shopper Intentions and Purchase Behaviors 2009 report, visit:http://www.hartman-group.com/publications/reports/gift-card-buying-trends-shopper-intentionsand-purchase-behaviors-2009.

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