BRENTWOOD, Tenn. -- A survey from gift card processor and issuer, Comdata Stored Value Solutions, has found that a whopping 95% of the 600 consumers surveyed between Aug. 31 and Sept. 5 had received or purchased a gift card.
The response is 25% more than what was reported in 2005, the company said.
Birthdays and what the company called the "Winter Holidays" are the leading occasions for which people buy gift cards and 27% of consumers surveyed said they purchased their cards over the Internet. By contrast, 22% said they purchased them at a mall kiosk or store.
Significantly, 31% of consumers reported having purchased a gift card for themselves in the last year, a jump from the 12% who reported having done so in the 2005 survey. Additionally, 24% of consumers surveyed reported getting gift cards from their employers as a bonus, incentive or reward.
The average load purchasers gave their gift cards was $46, the company said. This was up 21% from 2003.
The survey seemed to indicate that the industry had made real progress against the leading reason people listed for not having used gift cards in the past--just not having thought about using them.
Recipients most often report receiving department store and restaurant/fast food gift cards, followed by cards for books, clothing, and discount stores, the survey found. They are most likely to prefer cards from restaurants and department stores.
While card preferences vary somewhat among ethnicities, gender is more likely to predict preferences. More than one-half of gift card recipients use their card for the first time within one month of receiving it, and two-thirds say that they use up the full amount within one month. While two-thirds use the entire value of the card in one visit, one-quarter visit the retailer twice, and one in ten goes back three or more times.
Two recipients in five say that they have left value on a card. The amount is usually less than one dollar and respondents say that it isn't enough with which to bother.
Consumer advocates have criticized the cards for not providing sufficient value due to the small amounts often left on them. --firstname.lastname@example.org