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Shelley Hunter

Infographic: Surprising Data on Where People Spend Visa® Gift Cards

Gift card transactions show customers using open loop gift cards for bill paying, credit checking, travel, shipping and loading money into eWallets.

spending-data-charts-optimized

General-Use Gift Cards on the Rise

Recent studies have shown that general-use (open loop) gift cards are more desirable than store or restaurant (closed loop) gift cards because the recipients want the flexibility to choose exactly where to shop and how to spend the gift card dollars. So where exactly do they shop?

During the 2014 holiday season (Black Friday to Christmas Eve, inclusive), GiftCards.com and its corporate divisions sold over 285,000 Visa and Mastercard® gift cards to consumers. Of the consumer cards purchased, 23% were used within the first two weeks (December 26 through January 8) and had a total of 80,275 transactions. The cards were used as follows:

Overall Spending

1. Restaurant 32.21%

2. Gas Station/Convenience Store 9.77%

3. Electronics and Entertainment 9.39%

4. Apparel 9.37%

5. Other 9.14%

6. Mass Merchant 7.88%

7. Department Store 5.11%

8. Supermarket 4.62%

9. Home Improvement 2.29%

10. Drug Store 2.12%

11. Payment Option 1.32%

12. Dollar Store 1.27%

13. Online Service 1.05%

14. Home Goods 0.77%

15. Health and Beauty 0.76%

16. Sporting Goods 0.76%

17. Travel 0.66%

18. Hobby 0.38%

19. Pet Supply 0.34%

20. Office Supply/Postage 0.34%

21. Automotive 0.33%

22. Bill Pay 0.12%

Points of Interest

Data from merchant bank included mis-categorized transactions (e.g. JCPenney as a Gas Station). To the extent possible, by researching recognizable merchant names, merchants were re-categorized according to their primary business. Also, within the “other” category, no merchant has more than 50 transactions. 72% of the merchants listed in the “other” category have 10 or fewer transactions.


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Spending by Category

Within in the 82,275 transactions, there are 22,816 unique merchants—ranging from mass merchandisers like Walmart (with 4.96% of the total transactions) to thousands of small business establishments with only 1 transaction. The top five merchants per category (if available) are listed below.

Restaurants

1. McDonald’s 3.12%

2. Starbucks 1.14%

3. Dunkin’ Donuts 0.73%

4. Taco Bell 0.71%

5. Subway 0.68%

Gas/Convenience

1. 7-11 0.99%

2. Shell Oil 0.88%

3. Exxon Mobile 0.68%

4. Speedway 0.36%

5. Circle K 0.36%

Entertainment

1. Amazon 1.13%

2. Best Buy 0.75%

3. GameStop 0.61%

4. Valve Software 0.53%

5. SteamPowered.com 0.51%

Apparel

1. Victoria’s Secret 0.56%

2. Forever 21 0.37%

3. Old Navy 0.35%

4. Vanderbilt’s 0.30%

5. Claire’s 0.22%

Mass Merchant

1. Walmart 4.96%

2. Target 1.90%

3. Sam’s Club 0.31%

4. Meijer 0.26%

5. Costco 0.24%

Department Store

1. JCPenney 2.92%

2. Kohl’s 0.63%

3. Macy’s 0.44%

4. Nordstrom 0.34%

5. Dillards 0.24%

Supermarket

1. Kroger 0.56%

2. Publix 0.36%

3. HEB 0.31%

4. Safeway 0.28%

5. Shop Rite 0.24%

Home Improvement

1. Menards 0.96%

2. Home Depot 0.46%

3. Lowe’s 0.43%

4. Preferred Glass 0.41%

5. Ace Hardware 0.02%

Drug Store

1. CVS 0.95%

2. Walgreen’s 0.77%

3. Rite Aid 0.32%

4. Jewel Osco 0.06%

5. Longs 0.02%

Payment

1. GooglePay 1.03%

2. PayPal 0.29%

Dollar Store

1. Dollar General 0.39%

2. Family Dollar 0.38%

3. Dollar Tree 0.36%

4. Five Below 0.07%

5. Big Lots 0.06%

Online Service

1. GLD*Scores* 0.48%

2. RPTMYSCORE 0.11%

3. OldRepublicCredit.com 0.10%

4. EpochCom*FCIINCDBA 0.08%

5. MBIProBiller.com 0.08%

Home Goods

1. Bed Bath & Beyond 0.24%

2. Etsy.com 0.17%

3. Ikea 0.10%

4. Home Goods 0.05%

5. Pier 1 0.03%

Health/Beauty

1. Bath & BodyWorks 0.27%

2. Ulta 0.19%

3. Sephora 0.13%

4. Sally Beauty 0.09%

5. Shear Passions 0.03%

Sporting Goods

1. Dick’s Sporting 0.17%

2. Academy Sports 0.15%

3. Sports Authority 0.11%

4. Bass Pro Shops 0.07%

5. Scheels 0.03%

Travel

1. NYC Taxi 0.07%

2. MTA Transit 0.05%

3. Southwest 0.02%

4. United 0.02%

5. Ampco Parking 0.02%

Hobby

1. Michael’s 0.14%

2. Hobby Lobby 0.10%

3. JoAnn Store 0.08%

Pet Supply

1. PetSmart 0.16%

2. Petco 0.14%

Office

1. Staples 0.12%

2. USPS 0.09%

3. Office Depot 0.06%

4. Office Max 0.03%

5. UPS Store 0.03%

Automotive

1. AutoZone ‘s 0.09%

2. O’Reilly Automotive 0.07%

3. Advance Auto 0.04%

Bill Pay

1. ATT Bill Payment 0.06%

2. Habersham EMC 0.03%

3. CCBill.com 0.02%

4. Speedpay Duke Energy 0.01%

5. AllState Payment 0.01%

Points of Interest

  • Over 800 customers (1.03%), loaded their Visa or Mastercard gift card onto a GooglePay account. Although we don’t know exactly how they ultimately used the funds, it’s interesting to note that they used a mobile wallet in order to easily access the gift card dollars.
  • To the extent possible, we were able to identify that close to 1% of the people used gift cards to pay for online services such as credit score checks. Using a Visa gift card instead of a credit card is a good way to prevent credit card theft when paying for online services.
  • By looking for multiple transactions to the same merchant name, we were able to see that approximately 100 people used their gift card to pay a cell phone or utilities bill. With more complete category information by transaction (versus researching merchant names), we would probably find this number to be higher.

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Highest Ranked Merchant Overall

Of all the merchants shopped in the first two weeks after Christmas, Walmart received the most transactions with the general-use gift cards from GiftCards.com. The top 20 merchants overall are listed below:

Spending by Merchant

1. Walmart 4.96%

2. McDonalds 3.12%

3. JCPenney 2.92%

4. Target 1.90%

5. Amazon 1.15%

6. Starbucks 1.14%

7. GooglePay 1.03%

8. 7-11 0.99%

9. Menards 0.96%

10. CVS 0.95%

11. Shell Oil 0.88%

12. Walgreen’s 0.77%

13. Best Buy 0.75%

14. Dunkin’ Donuts 0.73%

15. Taco Bell 0.71%

16. Exxon Mobile 0.68%

17. Subway 0.68%

18. Kohl’s 0.63%

19. GameStop 0.61%

20. Wendy’s 0.56%

21. Other 73.89%

Points of Interest

  • Even though Walmart is the top-ranked merchant, the store only accounts for about 5% of all transactions. The top 20 stores make up approximately 25% of the transactions.
  • Of the Top 20 Stores, the merchants fall into several categories including Mass Merchants, Drug Stores, Gas Stations, Home Improvement, Restaurants and more

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Conculsions

This spending data serves to confirm what consumers are telling us–that they prefer open loop gift cards over single-store closed loop counterparts because they can use the card to shop wherever they want. The spending data is highly fragmented even beyond the average national retail market. Walmart, for example, represents about 10% of total U.S. retail spending, but only 5% of our data total. In addition, the data shows consumers are finding all sorts of uses for their open loop gift cards ranging beyond the traditional retail channels into areas like bill paying, credit checking, travel, shipping and loading money on eWallets.

While the data had to be massaged a bit and some of the finer points may have been lost in translation, no single merchant or single category is the clear choice for general-use gift card shoppers. Customers truly are spending these gift cards in vast and various ways.

Happy eGift Carding!

~Gift Card Girlfriend

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