Gift Card Purchases Continue to Rise

Physical and digital cards notch gains

November 14, 2017

Despite the struggles of brick-and-mortar retail, the purchase of physical gift cards has grown for three consecutive years, according to new survey data. Digital gift card purchases also have risen sharply this year.

First Data found that US consumers bought an average of 6.5 physical gift cards this year, up from 5.9 in 2016.

Meanwhile, the number of digital gift card purchases, which had been flat in the preceding years' surveys, rose to 6.1 per person, up from 4.0 the year before.

The First Data survey results align with CEB TowerGroup data from late 2016 showing steady incremental growth of gift card sales in the US. 

According to a survey by Blackhawk Network published in May 2017, 83% of internet users had used a gift card (physical or digital) in the past year. 

First Data's study looked not just at gift card purchases, but also at card usage. It found that consumers spent an average of $38 more than the value on their gift card this year—up $10 over 2016. And 44% of respondents said having a card caused them to go to a store they would not have visited otherwise.