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Gift cards may be the hottest gift available this holiday season

November 14, 2013

According to the latest report from the National Retail Federation, there's one gift that may be hotter than all others this coming holiday season: gift cards.

According to the latest report from the National Retail Federation, there’s one gift that may be hotter than all others this coming holiday season: gift cards.

More than 80 percent of respondents to the firm’s latest poll noted that they plan to purchase at least one of the cards this holiday season, illustrating the pressing need for all retailers and service providers to stock the items. The average holiday shopper will spend roughly $163 on gift cards this year, up significantly from the $156.86 recorded for such a figure during 2012. Gift card spending is expected to reach a national total of $29.8 billion this year – the highest amount recorded for the statistic in the 11-year history of the NRF’s survey. 

“Shoppers today recognize gift cards as the perfect fool-proof option for friends and family,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the NRF. “And traditional gift cards aren’t the only winners this holiday season, as more and more Americans are tied to their mobile devices, we expect digital gift cards to be especially popular with consumers.”

Consumers are also planning to spend more on each individual gift card they buy this season: the average shopper will spend more than $45 on each card they purchase, according to the report, up from the $43.75 average recorded during the 2012 holiday season. 

Custom gift cards may also play a large role in this holiday season, according to Pam Goodfellow, consumer insights director at Prosper. She said that customized gift cards allow consumers to avoid the feeling that gift cards are an “impersonal” purchase. 

“Gift givers know that many of their loved ones may have been holding back on spending on themselves all year long, and would love nothing more than to receive a gift card that allows them to purchase whatever they want,” Goodfellow said. “Shoppers hoping to add an extra touch to their gift cards will have plenty of opportunities to add audio, video or image enhancements to select retailers’ gift cards, making even the smallest gift still very personal.”

Another recent NRF report went on to suggest that consumers may be making their holiday purchases earlier this year than ever before: almost 54 percent of respondents to the latest poll noted that they have already started buying gifts for this year, which is the highest figure ever recorded for that statistic at this point in the year, according to the firm.

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