RetailNext reports drop in traditional graduation gift shopping

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Shopping for traditional gifting items during graduation season has declined, according to a recent RetailNext study.

The company — which analyzed 513 U.S. retail stores, looking at traffic, transactions, rate and length of engagement with individual product categories, dollars sold and rate of converting shoppers to purchasers ("conversion") — found that the nation as a whole declined roughly 5% in shopping for traditional gifting items during graduation. Additionally, fairly consistent nationwide decreases in traffic to stores (down 5.4%), transactions at the register (down 4.7%), sales in dollars (down 4.3%) and items sold (down 5.6%) were recorded.

RetailNext did report, however, found a marked uptick in gift card shopping: Shoppers visited gift cards as a category 18% more often than in the baseline period, with a whopping 32% increase in shopping for cash-equivalent debit cards.

"This sharp increase in shopping for gift cards — and especially those debit cards that are taken in most stores — implies a preference for providing the recipient more flexibility in using the value of the gift," RetailNext VP insights Chitra Balasubramanian said. "That might reflect frugality in the present down economy and soft job market."

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