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Exclusive   Gift Card Study 2008
  STATISTIC: Don't like gift cards because they might expire before you use  
  them? None of the retail gift cards Bankrate surveyed has expiration dates.  
2008 trends

Gift cards for needs, not wants

Fewer gift cards may stuff stockings this holiday season. Following the economic slide down the chimney, industry analysts expect gift card sales to dip.

"Overall, 60 percent are still planning to purchase at least one gift card this holiday season," says Lauren Coady, manager of consumer research at National Research Network, which conducted a 2008 gift card trends survey with The Hartman Group. "But roughly one-third of consumers are planning to buy fewer gift cards and/or spend less on gift cards this holiday season due to the current economic situation."

In another sign of the times, the study also found that nearly a third of gift card recipients tend to redeem them on necessities.

"I see the watchword for this Christmas season being practicality," says Daniel R. Horne, associate professor of marketing at Providence College. "I think the retailers who are traditionally more tied with practical things will do a little better."

We looked at several different gift card surveys and spoke with analysts about the categories of cards people want most this year. The surveys put the following cards at the top of consumers' wish lists but differed on rankings: "open-loop" cards, discount store/mass merchandisers, restaurant/fast food, clothing/department stores and gas station cards.

Gift card trends
In 2008, gift cards are still a popular gift. But this season, the emphasis is necessities, not luxuries.
Practicality reigns supreme
1. 'Open-loop' gift cards
2. Discount store/mass merchandiser cards
3. Restaurant/fast food gift cards
4. Clothing and department store gift cards
5. Gas station gift cards
-- Posted: Nov. 17, 2008
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