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Gift Givers Listening to Recipients as Gift Card Spending Expected to Rise

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For Immediate Release
Kathy Grannis (202)783-7971 or grannisk@nrf.com

Gift Givers Listening to Recipients as Gift Card Spending Expected to Rise
-Total Gift Card Spending to Reach Estimated $25 Billion-

Washington, November 17, 2010 – After going to head-to-head with discounted holiday gifts like luxury cashmere sweaters and appliances last year, gift cards are expected to emerge as winners this holiday season. According to NRF’s 2010 Gift Card Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGresearch, Americans will spend an average of $145.61 on gift cards, up from $139.91 last year. Total gift card spending is expected to reach $24.78 billion.* NRF’s first holiday survey, released last month, found that gift cards remain the most requested holiday gift, marking the fourth year in a row gift cards have topped consumers’ wish lists.

“This holiday season we expect Americans to gravitate toward both sale and non-sale items, including gift cards, which in recent years have been passed up for heavily discounted merchandise,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.  “With people focusing less on price and more on value this holiday season, Americans may choose to buy gift cards due to their convenience and popularity among gift recipients.”  

Not only will more people purchase gift cards this holiday season, but the average amount spent on each card will increase as well ($41.48 vs. $39.80 last year). According to the survey, 77.3 percent of shoppers will buy at least one gift card.

When it comes to which gift cards people will buy this holiday season, most shoppers say they will give their friends or family members a gift card to a department store (39.2%) or restaurant (33.4%), but others will consider book stores (23.7%), electronics stores (19.0%), entertainment venues like the movies (14.1%) and even coffee shops (13.9%).

At a time when spending on oneself has dwindled, nearly half of holiday shoppers surveyed (45.8%) say that they buy gift cards because it allows the recipient to select their own gift, and an additional 17.8 percent say convenience plays a role, as gift cards are easier and faster to buy.

While some shoppers love buying gift cards, others prefer to stick to traditional gifts. Those who hesitate to buy gift cards cite that the main reason is because the gift seems impersonal (24.1%). Additionally, despite new gift card regulations, some (18.9%) are concerned the card will expire or have added fees. Other reasons some people are less inclined to buy gift cards include their desire to buy items on sale to stretch their dollar further (8.9%), concern the recipient will lose it (5.9%), fear the retailer will go out of business (3.2%) and not knowing which company the recipient would want a card from (9.5%).

“Gift cards serve as a blank check of sorts, giving the gift recipient free will to buy something they may have had their eye on for years,” said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch. “For some, gift cards are straight from the heart and among the most thoughtful gifts that a person can receive.”

Gift Card Tips

As the most requested gift this year, gift cards offer many great benefits for both gift givers and receivers. With 23.8 percent of shoppers expected to buy Visa/Mastercard/American Express gift cards this year, NRF encourages shoppers to understand the difference between store-issued and bank-issued gift cards and use that information before making shopping decisions. Most importantly, consumers should read about the new Credit CARD Act, which changes how banks handle gift card fees. View NRF’s Gift Card tips for more information about buying gift cards this holiday season.

About the Survey
The NRF 2010 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the winter holidays. The survey polled 8,778 consumers and was conducted for NRF by BIGresearch from November 3-9, 2010. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent.

BIGresearch® consumer intelligence provides analysis of behavior in areas of products and services, retail, financial services, automotive and media. The BIGresearch Consumer Intentions and Actions® Survey (CIATM) of 8,000+ respondents is conducted monthly and the Simultaneous Media Usage® Survey (SIMM®) of 15,000+ respondents is conducted semi-annually.

As the world's largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, the National Retail Federation's global membership includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution as well as chain restaurants and industry partners from the U.S. and more than 45 countries abroad. In the U.S., NRF represents the breadth and diversity of an industry with more than 1.6 million American companies that employ nearly 25 million workers and generated 2009 sales of $2.3 trillion. www.nrf.com