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As the holiday season kicks into full gear, plastic and digital gift cards will be a mainstay on many consumers' shopping lists, with total spending forecasted to hit $31.74 billion, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).
NRF's Gift Card Spending Survey reveals that the average person buying gift cards this year will spend $172.74, up from $163.16 last year, and $47.87 per card, up from $45.16 last year.
Some 62 percent of shoppers said they would like to receive a gift card, making the item the most requested gift eight years in a row.
“No longer impersonal or only about convenience, gift cards have become the perfect, practical gift item for millions of holiday shoppers,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “And, as the most requested gift item for eight years in a row, we’re sure there will be plenty of happy individuals this holiday season who can look forward to treating themselves to something shiny and new come January when retailers start to offer promotions on fresh new merchandise.”
According to the study, shoppers aged 65+ will spend the most on gift cards at an average of $204.59; those 18-24 will spend the least ($113.75). Additionally, men plan to spend significantly more than women on gift cards ($180.81 vs. $165.09 respectively).
When it comes to intention, more than half (51.8 percent) of shoppers said that gift cards allow the recipient to select their own gift, up from 43.1 percent last year. Some 25.6 percent said gift cards are easier and faster to buy, and 3.8 percent said this helps them stick to their holiday budget.
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries.