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    Gift Cards Gain in Popularity: Survey

    DALLAS - Consumers purchased and gave more gift cards this holiday season than ever before, according to a survey conducted by Paymentech, a payment-processing company based here.

    DALLAS - Consumers purchased and gave more gift cards this holiday season than ever before, according to a survey conducted by Paymentech, a payment-processing company based here.

    The Dec. 26 to Dec. 28, 2004 survey of 800-plus consumers across the country found that 48 percent of those surveyed received at least one gift card, and 16 percent received three or more. In the 2004 holiday season, gift cards were predicted to account for 8 percent to 10 percent of holiday sales in 2004, totaling more than $17 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.

    Forty-one percent of the consumers who received a gift card this holiday season said they plan to redeem the cards within two to four weeks, and 16 percent had already redeemed them a mere three days after Christmas.

    Department stores were most likely to entice shoppers into buying a gift card, with 28 percent of respondents finding these cards under the tree. The next most popular sources of gift cards were specialty stores, which made up 24 percent of gift cards received, and mass discounters, which provided another 21 percent. Restaurants, home improvement stores, grocery stores, and gas stations, respectively, were also identified as sources for gift cards this season, as well. Most of the cards bought this year were valued between $25 and $50.

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