Holiday Survey: Gift Card Sales Drop

For the second consecutive year in a row, the forecast for holiday gift card sales are negative, according to a survey released today by the National Retail Federation here.

WASHINGTON — For the second consecutive year in a row, the forecast for holiday gift card sales are negative, according to a survey released today by the National Retail Federation here.

NRF’s 2009 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, indicated that holiday shoppers plan to spend slightly less on gift cards, with the average person spending $139.91, compared to $147.33 last year. Total spending on gift cards is expected to reach $23.63 billion.

Last year holiday card sales fell nearly 6% to $24.9 billion during last year's holiday season, NRF reported.

Negative publicity over fees, expiration dates and concerns that companies may go out of business have hurt the category as much as the downturn in the economy and high unemployment.

To help buoy up sales, retailers are offering gift card incentives, noted Tracy Mullin, NRF president and chief operating officer. “Though gift cards never go on sale, many retailers are offering incentives on these popular items to help bargain-hunters stretch their budgets even farther.”

The survey also noted that gift recipients can expect cards with lower monetary values this year. The average value per card this year will be $39.80, compared to $40.54 in 2008. Consistent with last year, 77% of people will buy at least one card this holiday season.

The NRF 2009 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the winter holidays. The survey polled 8,692 consumers from Nov. 3-10. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1%.

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