Impersonal or practical, gift cards are integral to the holiday season. Purchases of gift cards also keep rising every year.
In 2017, US internet users purchased an average of 6.5 gift cards and 6.1 digital cards, up from 5.9 and 4.0, in 2016, according to First Data.
Last holiday season, gift cards or certificates tied for first place with clothing (49%) among planned purchases in a Deloitte survey of US internet users. For receivers, gift cards aren't a cop out. In fact, gift cards and certificates were the most wanted holiday gifts among 61% of US internet users surveyed, according to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey.
And yet, despite the healthy annual growth in digital, sales of physical gift cards have persisted.
Roughly 71% of gift cards purchased in the US in the past 12 months were bought in-store, according to a new Packaged Facts study. Half of those physical cards were purchased on a shelf display at a supermarket, drug store or other retailer. More consumers ages 18 to 24 claimed to buy gift cards through this channel than all other age groups.
This preference for buying gift cards at a third-party location, like a grocery store, was borne out by a March 2018 Blackhawk Network survey. Roughly three-fourths of US consumers bought them at a third-party store while 49% of survey respondents bought directly from a retailer.