Button: Member Login

Graduates to Receive More Cash, Fewer Gift Cards This Year, According to NRF Survey

Click here for sample charts


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

Graduates to Receive More Cash, Fewer Gift Cards This Year,
According to NRF Survey
-Spending on Graduates Drops as Economy Impacts Gift-Giving- 

Washington, May 14, 2009 – Family and friends of graduates this year are choosing to be a little more practical with their gift giving, opting for the versatility of cash instead of gift cards. According to NRF’s 2009 Graduation Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGresearch, 58.9 percent of Americans who will buy for graduates will fill envelopes with cash, up from 56.8 percent last year. Just 29.4 percent will give gift cards, down from 32.2 percent last year.

The survey also found Americans will spend an average of $88.01 on gifts for an average of two students, down from $99.79 last year. Total spending on graduation gifts is expected to reach $3.9 billion.* 

“Many students will pool graduation money for major purchases like electronics, furniture, and house wares,” said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin. “Young adults will have tremendous buying power in the next several months.”

The survey found other popular graduation gifts to include greeting cards (37.0%), electronics (9.0%) and apparel (9.9%).

“Students often use graduation gifts to stock up for college or furnish their first apartment,” said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch. “With graduates receiving less money and smaller gifts this year, many young adults are likely to head to discounters to scout for sales in order to get the most bang for their buck.” 

About the Survey

 NRF’s 2009 Graduation Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted for NRF by BIGresearch, was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to graduation. The poll of 8,447 consumers was conducted from May 5-12, 2009. 

BIGresearch is a consumer market intelligence firm that provides unique consumer insights that are gathered online utilizing very large sample sizes. BIGresearch’s syndicated Consumer Intentions and Actions survey monitors the pulse of more than 8,000 consumers each month to empower its clients with unique insights for identifying opportunities in a fragmented and changing marketplace. 

The National Retail Federation is the world's largest retail trade association, with membership that comprises all retail formats and channels of distribution including department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, chain restaurants, drug stores and grocery stores as well as the industry's key trading partners of retail goods and services. NRF represents an industry with more than 1.6 million U.S. retail establishments, more than 24 million employees - about one in five American workers - and 2008 sales of $4.6 trillion. As the industry umbrella group, NRF also represents more than 100 state, national and international retail associations. www.nrf.com.  


* Total extrapolation of US population 18+