About Gift Card Statistics
When interviewed by the media, I’m often asked to quote the size of the gift card industry, to speculate on the dollar value of unredeemed gift cards, to report on obscure gift card trends and more. While I can (and will) dig up those numbers, the stats and sources for each are nearly as vast and varied as the number of gift cards found on grocery store gift card racks.
So rather than go on a scavenger hunt each time a reporter asks me for the latest stats on gift cards, I created this collection of the most current gift card statistics I can find to save us all some time.
Gift Card Statistics by Category
From Blackhawk Network Research to my own Gift Card Girlfriend research; plus facts, figures, and theories from a variety of other resources, the most current gift card statistics I can find are listed in the following categories below:
If you have a question that is not answered by the gift card statistics and quotes below, add a comment below and I will do my best to get the answers you need.
Digital Gift Cards Statistics
Statistics on virtual gift cards include research, comments and theories on the transition from plastic or physical gift cards to electronic gift cards also known as egift cards, virtual gift cards, digital gift cards and even mobile gift cards, although the latter would more accurately be an egift card that is presented on a mobile device. Below are the most current statistics I have found on digital gift cards.
|Source||Year||Gift Card Statistics|
|National Gift Card Annual B2B Gift Card Report||2018||On Preferring Physical Gift Cards – “Consumers Prefer Physical Gift Cards: Although decreasing by 3 percent over the past year, 75 percent of the volume in gift card program redemptions is still in physical cards versus 25 percent for digital gift cards (eGift cards).”|
|Blackhawk Network’s State of Consumer Gift Card Preferences in 2018||2018||On Interest in Digital Gift Cards – 55% of consumers surveyed report being interested in giving or receiving digital gift cards that can be added to a mobile app or digital wallet, especially Millenials. 55% are interested in giving and 67% are interested in receiving a digital gift card.
On Gift Cards via Social Media – When asked about a gift card sent via a social media platform, 60% of of 18- to 34-year-old consumers surveyed would be interested in receiving a gift card through a social platform, like Facebook, and 54% would be interested in giving one.
|Mercator Advisory Groups, “Retail Gift Card Trends in the United States: 2016 in Review.”||2017||Gift Card Definitions – “Prepaid card form factors can be divided into three broad categories.|
Physical cards are the ones that people know best. They are usually made of plastic or coated paper and carry a magnetic stripe that encodes the value.
Virtual cards are those that are sent to a recipient in electronic form, regardless of how they are redeemed (such as through paper printouts brought into a store or a code entered on a website). These cards are usually sent via email, but they also can exist as a post on social media.
Mobile cards are those that are sent to a recipient in electronic form and require the handset or other mobile device to redeem it. These cards can be sent via an app, SMS message, or through the internet, but are linked to the phone or other device.”
|Ranking of Top eGift Cards||2016||On the Best eGift Card Features – 72% of the merchants reviewed offer an egift card to customers. Of those, 98.6% send egifts via email and 6.5% via text message. From mobile devices, 80% send email egifts and 12% send text message egifts.|
48% of merchants reviewed allow customers to upload personalized photos to egift cards and 4% allow video message upload.
66% of merchants reviewed allow scheduled egift card delivery so digital gift cards can be ordered in advance.
Top Gift Card programs overall are Best Buy, Sephora, JCPenney, The Home Depot, American Eagle Outfitters, Old Navy, Williams-Sonoma, Amazon, Banana Republic and Gap.
|Blackhawk Network’s study of consumers’ usage, adoption of and sentiments toward egifts||2016||On Digital Gift Card Preference – “While plastic gift cards remain a top gift-giving choice, with 89% of consumers surveyed reporting they have purchased at least one plastic gift card in the last year, 71% of those individuals have also purchased one or more egifts during the same timeframe.”|
“Nearly half of consumers surveyed (42%) have purchased egifts for both gifts and self-use.”
“For self-use: The majority (78%) of respondents reported they would purchase an egift for self-use if it were offered at a discount, a finding of particular interest for retailers wishing to grow egift adoption.”
“For gift-giving: 30% of consumers surveyed have purchased an egift specifically with the recipient in mind because they knew the recipient would like it, however speed and ease of delivery were the most important factors influencing their purchase.”
“The top features that make the consumers surveyed more likely to gift egifts according to the research, include delivery in minutes (45%), delivery notification (39%), ability to include a digital greeting card (28%).”
|National Gift Card annual 2017 B2B Gift Card Data||2016||On Preferred Type of Gift Card – “This latest analysis also found plastic gift card redemption doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. While slowly rising in popularity each year, eGift card redemption still accounts for less than 15% of B2B gift card volume compared to 85% for physical gift cards.”|
“There’s a substantial population of Gen X and Baby Boomers who prefer to redeem their points, miles and cash back rewards for physical gift cards. More Millennials select eGift card rewards, but there is also some digital backlash as end-users experience eCard technology issues, training gaps at the point of sale, confusion with mobile wallets, or even fraud…”
|Ninth Annual CEB Tower Group Report||2015||On the Rise of Digital Gifting – “Digital gift giving or “e-gifting,” which registered a 26% rise this year, will continue to support overall industry growth.”|
“Both retailers and financial institutions have prioritized gift cards as a central to their strategies for gaining share of customers’ (increasingly digital) wallets.”
“E-gifting, which represented $7.1 billion in volume this year up from $5.5 billion in 2014, will both support and disrupt the market over the long-term.”
“…CEB estimates that e-gifting will account for $18 billion by 2018, over 11% of all gift card spend.”
|CEB Gift Cards State of the Union||2015||On Growth of eGift Cards- “Electronic gift card transactions are expected to rise 26% to $7.1 billion.”|
|SVS Digital Gift Card Consumer Sentiment Study||2015||On Who Buys Digital – 1 in 3 males prefer to buy digital cards.|
Nearly 40% of consumers aged 18 to 35 expressed a preference for digital gift cards.
“64% of consumers surveyed had not yet bought or received a digital or mobile gift card, although Millennials numbered 29% of the survey population who had done so.”
Gift Card Fraud Statistics
Statistics on gift card fraud include thoughts on security measures, best practices, gift card scams and other aspects of the gift card industry that reputable companies are working to provide or prevent.
|Source||Year||Gift Card Statistics|
|Ninth Annual CEB Tower Group Report||2015||On Gift Card Mag Stripes – As mainstream debit and credit cards transition to new, more secure chip readers this year, gift card fraud may increase again because low-cost gift cards will continue to rely on the more vulnerable magnetic strips, a relatively easy access point for fraudulent activity.|
Gift Cards Preferences Statistics
Which gift cards do women prefer? Which type of gift cards are top choices for men? What about kids, Millennials, baby boomers and the elderly? When I find gift card statistics that help us understand gift card preferences, I’ll include them here in this section on gift card preferences.
|Source||Year||Gift Card Statistics|
|NRF Holiday 2019 Recap||2019||On Being The Most Popular Gift – “For the 13th year in a row, gift cards remain the most popular items on wish lists, requested by 59 percent of those surveyed, followed by clothing and accessories at 52 percent, books/movies/music/video games (35 percent), electronics (29 percent), home décor (24 percent), jewelry (23 percent), personal care or beauty items (21 percent), sporting goods (18 percent) and home improvement items (17 percent).”|
|Blackhawk Network 2019 BrandedPay Holiday Shopping Preview||2019||On 2019 Holiday Shopping – Surveyed shoppers’ holiday gift card spend is expected to increase 7% from 2018, with shoppers spending approximately 35% of their total holiday gifting budget on gift cards . Additional findings include:
|Blackhawk Network 2018 Spring Summit Research||2018||On Where People Prefer to Buy Gift Cards – 49% of people surveyed prefer to buy their gift cards directly from the retailer or brand. This is especially true of men and Millennials (though it tends to decrease with age). For many of these respondents (40%), it feels more secure to do so, but there’s also the lure of discounts, promotions, loyalty points, and convenient store locations. For many (45%), gift cards that can only purchased in this way have a certain “exclusive” feel to them.|
|NRF Holiday 2017 Recap||2017||On Being The Most Popular Gift – “For the eleventh year in a row, gift cards remain the most popular items on wish lists, requested by 61 percent of those surveyed, followed by clothing and accessories at 55 percent, the highest level the category has seen in 12 years.”|
|Blackhawk Network’s Survey “How America Gives Gifts in 2016”||2016||On Holiday Gifting – “A wide variety of gift card types will be purchased, the top three being restaurant, credit card, and department store gift cards.” When asked what types of gift cards people plan to purchase, respondents said…|
Restaurant gift cards (41%)
Visa® Gift Cards, MasterCard® Gift Cards and American Express Gift Cards (31%)
Department store gift cards (28%)
Coffee shop gift cards (21%)
Specialty clothing, shoes, apparel and accessories gift cards (19%)
Entertainment/movies gift cards (19%)
Electronics store gift cards (18%)
Book store gift cards (14%)
Salon/spa gift cards (11%)
Home improvement gift cards (10%)
Sporting goods gift cards (9%)
Gas station gift cards (8%)
Grocery store gift cards (8%)
Discount store gift cards (6%)
Home decor/housewares gift cards (5%)
Office supply gift cards (2%)
|NRF Holiday 2016 Recap||2016||On Being The Most Requested Gift (AGAIN) – The most-requested gift of the holiday season is Gift Cards at 61% for ten years in a row.|
“Women are more likely to wish for gift cards (69% vs. 53%.) On the flip side, men love their gadgets: 41% want consumer electronics compared with only 24% of women.”
|NRF Gift Card Spending Survey||2015||On Men vs. Women – “Again this year, men plan to spend more than women on gift cards ($162.01 vs. $144.62 respectively).”|
|NRF Monthly Customer Survey||2015||On Popular Gift Cards this Holiday – Most popular gift cards people will purchase this holiday season are Restaurant gift cards (34.8%), Department store gift cards (34.4%), Visa/MasterCard/American Express/Discover gift cards(22.7%), Coffee shop gift cards(20.1%) and Entertainment gift cards (movies, music, etc.)(17.2%).|
50% of the people who intend to buy gift cards this holiday season will do so because gift cards allow the recipients to select their own gifts. 27.4% say that gift cards are easier and faster to buy than traditional gifts.
|Kids and Gift Cards Study by Gift Card Girlfriend and The Gift Card Network||2015||On Gift Cards for Kids – Birthday is the number one reason to give a gift card to a child. 78% of people who buy gift cards for kids do so for birthdays. 52% buy gift cards for December holidays. 24% buy gift cards for school-related accomplishments.|
Mass merchant gift cards are the most popular gift cards for kids. When people buy gift cards for kids, 50% will buy from a mass merchant, 41% will buy toy or game store gift cards, 32% will buy entertainment or movie gift cards and 29% will buy gift cards for online retailers.
Target is the most popular brand gift card for kids. When people buy gift cards for kids, 35% will buy a Target gift card, 16% will buy a Walmart gift card, 10% will buy an Amazon gift card, 9% will buy Game Stop, 8% will buy Toys R Us and 8% will also buy a Visa or MasterCard gift card.
|NRF First Holiday Survey||2015||On Being The Most Requested Gift – “…58.8% of shoppers said that they would like to receive a gift card, making them the most requested gift item nine years in a row.”|
|Research by the University of Cincinnati||2014||On Open Loop Gift Cards – “…when subjects were asked what they would like to receive, they overwhelmingly replied that they wanted credit-card gift cards, which would give them the flexibility to choose exactly what they want.”|
Gift Card Spending Statistics
Depending on the source, gift card spending each year is either going up or down by a little or a lot. In my experience, sales climb each year with the more noticeable change being in the type of gift cards purchased (e.g. digital or plastic) and top brands preferred. Below you will find reputable statistics on gift card spending estimates and predictions.
|Source||Year||Gift Card Statistics|
|Blackhawk Network’s State of Consumer Gift Card Preferences in 2018||2018||On Overspending Gift Cards – 59% of consumers surveyed usually spend more than the card’s value.|
|Blackhawk Network 2018 Spring Summit Research||2018||Who Do People Buy Gift Cards For?|
Close family member (73%), Friend (49%), Extended Family Member (37%), A Child Other Than Your Own (19%), Colleague, Employee or Boss (18%).
|Blackhawk Network 2018 Spring Summit Research||2018||On What Occasions People Buy Gift Cards – Birthdays and winter holidays (like Christmas) are two of the most popular occasions to buy a gift card for someone else. Top reasons to buy a gift card include:|
Birthday (67%), Holidays (44%), Thank You (25%), Graduation (22%), Mother’s Day (21%), Congratulations (21%), Just Because (20%), Wedding (17%), Anniversary (17%), Valentine’s Day (16%), Reward for Someone (14%), Father’s Day (14%), New Baby (13%), Housewarming (7%), Work-related Reward (7%), Easter (7%), Back to School (5%)
|Blackhawk Network 2018 Spring Summit Research||2018||On Why People Buy Gift Cards for Themselves – Those who’ve purchased a gift card for themselves cite three main reasons for doing so: to shop online (51%), receive a discount or take advantage of a promotion (46%), and/or collect points somehow, such as on their credit card (42%).|
|MoneyTips.com Mother’s Day Spending||2018||On Mother’s Day Spending – Americans will spend $2.5 Billion on gift cards for Mother’s Day|
|Ninth Annual NRF Father’s Day Survey||2017||On Father’s Day Spending – “The survey found 27% of dads would love to receive a “gift of experience” for Father’s Day — and 25% of shoppers plan to grant that wish with gifts like tickets to a concert or a sporting event. When dinners, brunches and other types of “fun activity/experience” are included, consumers plan to spend $3.3 billion on special outings, which will be given by 48% of those surveyed…Next up on the spending list is $2.2 billion on gift cards (given by 43%), followed by $2.2 billion on clothing (46%) and $1.8 billion on consumer electronics (21%). Personal care products such as a bottle of cologne (21%) total $888 million, slightly edging out home improvement supplies (16%) at $885 million. Greeting cards are the most common gift, purchased by 64% of consumers, but only account for $861 million of projected spending.”|
|Ninth Annual NRF Mother’s Day Survey||2017||On Mother’s Day Spending – “According to the survey, consumers plan to spend $5 billion on jewelry (purchased by 36%of shoppers), $4.2 billion on special outings such as dinner or brunch (56%), $2.6 billion on flowers (69%), $2.5 billion on gift cards (45%), $2.1 billion on clothing (37%), $2 billion on consumer electronics (15%) and $1.9 billion on personal services such as a spa day (24%)…When it comes to “gifts of experience” such as tickets to a concert or hot air balloon ride, 28% want to receive such a gift, compared with 24% last year. Younger consumers in particular may be looking to create a special memory, with nearly half under the age of 35 planning to give such a gift.”|
|Mercator Advisory Groups, “Retail Gift Card Trends in the United States: 2016 in Review.”||2016||On the Upswing of Gift Cards – “Gift card load growth returned in 2016 as consumers bought more cards, and retailers began to use more of them for incenting consumer behavior.”|
“The closed-loop, In-Store gift card segment returned to growth 2016 after seeing a decline in 2015.”
“Reported virtual card load volumes seemed to moderate in 2016, but mobile card loads grew.”
“Reloads as a percentage of total volume have become a significant part of the market.”
Average percentage of card loads that come during the holiday season November 1 to December 31.
2010 – 42.0%
2011 – 47.0%
2012 – 50.0%
2013 – 47.0%
2014 – 41.0%
2015 – 35.0%
2016 – 36.0%
Loads in the In-Store Gift Cards Segment of U.S. Closed-Loop Prepaid Cards Market shot up to $91.1 billion in 2016, up from $85.7 billion in 2015 and slightly down from $93.5 billion in 2014.
|Blackhawk Network’s Survey on”How America Gives Gifts in 2016″||2016||On the Most Popular Gift Giving Occasions – Birthdays (89%) are the most popular gift-giving occasion followed by The Winter Holidays (67%), Mother’s Day and Father’s Day (64%) and Valentine’s Day (53%). How many of the gifts given will be gift cards?|
Birthdays – 89% purchased a gift for this occasion last year. 68% of these gifts were in the form of a gift card, which was the most popular response.
The Winter Holidays – 78% purchased a gift for this occasion last year. 67% of these gifts were in the form of a gift card, the most popular response, along with clothing, shoes, or accessories (67%).
Mother’s Day or Father’s Day – 64% purchased a gift for this occasion last year. 38% of these gifts were in the form of a gift card, a close second to flowers/plants (40%), which was the top pick.
Valentine’s Day – 53% purchased a gift for this occasion last year. 27% of these gifts were in the form of a gift card. (It was more often food items and/or candy (52%), and/or flowers (35%).)
Baby Showers / Births – 37% purchased a gift for this occasion last year. 32% of these gifts were in the form of a gift card, coming in second over clothing, shoes, or accessories (62%).
“Just Because” – 37% purchased a gift for this occasion last year. 25% of these gifts were in the form of a gift card. (It’s fifth on the list here, the most popular gift being a food item or candy (42%).)
Weddings – 37% purchased a gift for this occasion last year. 47% of these gifts were in the form of a gift card, which was the most popular response.
Graduations – 35% purchased a gift for this occasion last year. 61% of these gifts were in the form of a gift card, which was the most popular response.
Thanks Yous – 30% purchased a gift for this occasion. 52% of these gifts were in the form of a gift card, which was the most popular response.
Easter / Passover – 27% purchased a gift for this occasion. 24% of these gifts were in the form of a gift card. (It was more often food items and/or candy (71%), and/or toys (50%).)
Back to School – 20% purchased a gift for this occasion. 15% of these gifts were in the form of a gift card. (It’s fourth on the list here. Clothing, shoes, or accessories top the list (62%).)
Promotions / Rewards – 12% purchased a gift for this occasion. 40% of these gifts were in the form of a gift card, which was the most popular response.
|Kids and Gift Cards Study by Gift Card Girlfriend and The Gift Card Network||2015||On Gift Cards for Kids – 80% of people who intend to buy gifts for kids this holiday season will buy gift cards. 40% will buy 1 to 4 gift cards for kids, 29% will buy 5 to 10 gift cards for kids.|
The number of gift cards kids receive will continue to increase as 51% of people who buy gift cards for kids will buy the SAME number of gift cards they bought last year, but 33% will buy MORE gift cards for kids.
|Ninth Annual CEB Tower Group Report||2015||On the Increase in Spending – “U.S. gift card spend will hit $130 billion in sales this year, a more than 6% increase over 2014. … The 6% growth in 2015 matches earlier CEB estimates of 5-6% annual industry growth. CEB projects that total gift card volume will reach $160 billion by 2018.”|
|NRF Gift Card Spending Survey||2015||On the Average Gift Card Amount – “National Retail Federation’s Gift Card Spending Survey found that those planning to buy gift cards will spend slightly less on average ($153.08 vs. $172.74 last year), the first drop in average spending since 2009. Total spending is expected to reach $25.9 billion.*”|
|NRF Monthly Customer Survey||2015||On How Many Gift Cards People will Buy – 73.4% of Adults 18+ intend to buy at least one gift card during the holiday season.|
People who will buy gift cards plan to buy 3.4 gift cards on average. (Down from 3.6 in both 2013 and 2014).
Gift card purchasers will buy $26 billion dollars’ worth of gift cards this holiday season. (Down from $32 billion in 2014).
On average, gift card buyers will spend $153.08 on gift cards this holiday season. (Down from $172.74 in 2014).
Average dollar amount per gift card this holiday season will be $44.83. (Down from $47.88 in 2014).
|CEB Gift Cards State of the Union||2015||On Overall Growth – “US gift card transactions will generate $129.7 billion, a 6.3% jump from 2014’s $122 billion.”|
|Gift Card Girlfriend Study onHow People Spend Gift Cards||2014||On When People Use Open-Loop Gift Cards – “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.|
On Where People Use Open-Loop Gift Cards – Top places open-loop gift cards were spent include Restaurants (32.21%), Gas Stations or Convenience Stores (9.77%), Electronics and Entertainment Stores (9.39%) and Apparel (9.37%).
The highest ranking merchant was Walmart at 4.96% followed by McDonalds at 3.12%. 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.
|CEB Gift Cards State of the Union||2014||On Overspending Gift Cards – “Retailers can count on consumers to spend more money on their gift cards than face value. 65% of gift card users spend 38% over face value of their cards.”|
Gift Card Trends Statistics
What is hot in the gift card industry this year? Who is predicting what in the gift card space? Check out the gift card trends below for insights on what to expect in gift card sales this holiday season and beyond.
|Source||Year||Gift Card Statistics|
|Mercator Advisory Groups, “Retail Gift Card Trends in the United States: 2016 in Review.”||2016||On What Influences Shoppers – “Gift card trends are influenced by larger trends, and a growth in e-commerce may be helping to fuel the growth of gift card loads as shoppers look to gift cards as branded currency for shopping online.”|
|Blackhawk Network’s Survey on “How America Gives Gifts in 2016”||2016||On Where People Will Buy Gift Cards – “Most plan on purchasing at least one gift card this holiday season (the average being 4.6). Furthermore, most also estimate that up to half their gifts this year could be in the form of a gift card.”|
“56% believe they’ll procure the gift cards they need directly from their associated retailers, and 64% believe they’ll be able to get them all at one store or nearly all at one store (especially women).”
“The allure of a gift card is in the recipient’s freedom to then purchase what he or she wants. Not only that, they’re easier and faster to purchase, as well as easier to mail, than traditional gifts. There’s also no merchandise to return.”
“About five gift cards (4.6) will be purchased, on average, with this number being higher among primary gift buyers (4.7 vs. 3.6 among those who are not). For the most part, this is roughly the same amount of gift cards respondents bought last year, though it is important to note that significantly more primary gift buyers plan on buying more this year over last (19% vs. 10% among those who are not.)”
“The vast majority will purchase at least one gift card or e-gift this holiday season, especially primary gift buyers (82% vs. 69% among those who are not)…”
“Overall, approximately 26% of the holiday budget has been dedicated to gift cards this season. Of the $740.00 respondents believe they will spend this year on gifts, nearly $200.00 of that will be spent on gift cards alone. Though primary gift buyers plan on spending more this holiday season ($771.00), they’ve also set aside more for gift cards ($202.70), which remains 26% of their budget.”
“About half (52%) indicate that up to a quarter of all their gifts this year will be in the form of a gift card; 81% note that it could be up to half. A mix of plastic and e-gift cards is expected.”
History of Gift Cards
Have you ever wondered about the history of gift cards? How we went from paper gift certificates to the plastic gift card phenomenon that we know today? Find quotes and links to the history of gift cards below and stay tuned for updates, because the future of gift cards is still unwritten.
|Source||Year||Gift Card Statistics|
|Smithsonian magazine||2013||On Who Invented Gift Cards – “Neiman Marcus was the first to sell the cards, but they didn’t advertise and display them. It was Blockbuster who first displayed the gift card in its stores (apparently due to rampant counterfeiting of their paper gift certificates). The next big gift card seller was Starbucks, who in 2001 introduced cards that worked more than once.”|
Rewards and Incentives Gift Card Statistics
The advent of gift cards has literally changed the way we give gifts. No longer do we spend hours searching for the perfect present when we can give gift cards that are often better received than the sweaters, books and baubles we used to look for. The advent of gift cards has also dramatically changed the way we give rebates, rewards and incentives as well. Below are some statistics on gift cards and how they impact (or are impacted by) in the reward and incentives industry.
|Source||Year||Gift Card Statistics|
|Blackhawk Network’s State of Consumer Gift Card Preferences in 2018||2018||On What Employees and Customers Want:|
42% of consumers surveyed report purchasing gift cards for themselves in order to earn airline miles, reward, loyalty, fuel or credit card points.
8 in 10 consumers surveyed find promotions involving physical gift cards are more influential when it comes to purchase decisions than other options like bonus ‘dollars’, coupons and digital gift cards.
69% of employees surveyed would like to receive a gift card as a reward from an employer, compared to 73% that would prefer a cash incentive.
|Incentive Marketplace Estimate Research Study||2016||On Size of Gift Card Spend – “84% of U.S. businesses use non-cash rewards to recognize and reward key audiences in the form of award points, gift cards, incentive travel, and merchandise – up from 74% in 2013”|
“In 2015, U.S. businesses spent $90 billion on these types of non-cash rewards, up from $77 billion in 2013”
“…the total size of the non-cash incentives market is $90 billion, with sales and employee rewards remaining the largest categories of spend”
“The addition of award points and gift cards as separate categories for spend has shifted the distribution of rewards budgets – award points and gift cards account for two-thirds of the market spend. Spending on sales and employee rewards continues to outpace other program types.”
“While 72% of U.S. firms still use some form of Merchandise for gifting and rewards and 45% still use Travel, a full 87% are now using gift cards and 55% are using award points.”
|National Gift Card annual 2017 B2B Gift Card Data||2016||On Type of Reward Gift Card Selected – “There’s a substantial population of Gen X and Baby Boomers who prefer to redeem their points, miles and cash back rewards for physical gift cards. More Millennials select eGift card rewards, but there is also some digital backlash as end-users experience eCard technology issues, training gaps at the point of sale, confusion with mobile wallets, or even fraud…”|
|Forbes article on Prepaid||2014||On Retail Purchases Made with Prepaid Cards – “In 2014, retail purchases made with prepaid cards will top U.S. $200 billion dollars, equaling five percent of all retail spending in the U.S. The purchase volume numbers include prepaid debit, payroll cards, open (from a major card company like Visa or MasterCard which can be used anywhere) and closed-loop gift cards (like Starbucks, for example), and open and closed-loop consumer incentive cards.”|
Size of the Gift Card Industry Statistics
There may be some cross-over here in this section on statistics on the size of the gift card industry because the total size is affected by trends, preferences, spending and more. I am calling these stats out, however, because a popular question asked is some variation of, “How big is the gift card industry?” or “How many gift cards are sold each year?” I aim to answer those questions here.
|Source||Year||Gift Card Statistics|
|Blackhawk Network 2018 Spring Summit Research||2018||On purchasing gift cards – Virtually everyone has purchased a gift card before. 91% of people surveyed have purchased one, either for themselves (69%) or someone else (87%).|
|Mercator Advisory Groups, “14th Annual U.S. Open-Loop Prepaid Cards Market Forecasts, 2017–2020.”||2016||On the Growth of Open-Loop Gift Cards – “Mercator Advisory Group forecasts that growth in the open-loop prepaid loads in the United States be 5% through 2020, reaching a total of $353.6 billion. Declines in some segments and slower growth in others have led Mercator Advisory group to revise its expectations for the overall market.”|
|NRF Gift Card Spending Survey||2015||On the Multi-billion Dollar Industry – “Gift cards — once the default for those hard-to-buy-for people on the list — are showing signs of fatigue. In 2015, NRF’s Gift Card Spending Survey showed holiday season gift card spending dipped for the first time since 2009. It’s still hefty, however, reaching $25.9 billion.”|
Unused Gift Card Statistics
Second only to questions about how big the gift card industry is are questions about unused gift cards. The media are often fixated on how many gift cards go unused each year and who is profiting the most from lost, stolen or forgotten gift cards. Hopefully some of the statistics on unused gift cards below can enlighten us all on this topic.
|Source||Year||Gift Card Statistics|
|GiftCards.com YouGov Survey||2018||On Remembering to Use Gift Cards:|
75% of people surveyed (68% of men, 81% of women) said they ALWAYS use the gift cards they receive.
20% of people surveyed (23% of men, 17% of women) said they forget to use the gift cards they receive.
29% of people surveyed (32% of men, 26% of women) said they have received a gift card that they never used.
|Blackhawk Network’s State of Consumer Gift Card Preferences in 2018||2018||On Usage – 42% of consumers surveyed use gift cards they’ve received right away.”|
|Finder.com||2016||On Unused Gift Cards – “Over $970 million in gift card cash went unused in 2015 alone. Meanwhile, total gift card spending in 2015 clocked in at $130 billion, up 6% from the year before. Despite the billions of dollars that go unused, it’s estimated that gift card sales will make another 9% jump this year.”|
“Since 2005, some $45.7 billion has been floating around in unused gift card balances.”
|National Retail Federation Monthly Customer Survey||2015||On When People Use Their Gift Cards – 42% of people who receive gift cards this holiday season say they will watch for a good sale or promotion to maximize the value of their gift cards. Only 20% will use their gift cards quickly. Less than 2% expect their gift cards to go unused.|
|Ninth Annual CEB Tower Group Report||2015||On the Number of Unused Gift Cards – “Spillage, or unused gift card volume, continued to decline significantly to less than 1% of total volume, as regulatory action has eliminated most junk fees.”|
|CEB Gift Cards State of the Union||2015||On the Dollar Value of Unused Gift Cards – “Spillage remains relatively low in 2015 thanks to the continued impact from 2009’s CARD Act on junk fees and expiration dates. Since 2008, the annual amoung of spillage has dropped from close to $7 per $100 in 2008 to < $0.75 per $100 now. That’s still a sizeable amount: based on 2015’s gift card revenue, it adds up to $973 million”|
Barron’s recap of this same statistic reports, “The best gifts are ones you choose for yourself, reason buyers of gift cards. They spent $130 billion on cards in 2015, according to CEB, a professional services firm, though close to $1 billion went unused last year. That’s mainly due to people forgetting or losing their cards or leaving a portion of the balance on the card after an initial purchase.”