gift card: A gift with strings attached|
"Americans are speaking with their wallets,"
says Larsen. "There have been a number of trends in the gift
card arena. We are observing that most people have either given
a bad gift or received a bad gift, so these people are turning to
gift cards because this allows complete satisfaction for both the
giver and receiver."
The stigmas of gift cards are no
"I think retailers are doing
a great job at marketing gift cards as merchandise. They are no
longer impulse buys, and consumers are purchasing gift cards for
a variety of people, not just close friends and family," says
Maybe it's the recognition that a gift card saves
time and alleviates the stress of trying to find that perfect gift.
"Our grandparents certainly once thought that
gift cards were impersonal, but now older generations are welcoming
gift cards with open arms because they realize that they are not
up on trends and want to give their children and grandchildren that
perfect gift and what better way to satisfy your friends and family,"
Surveys conducted by numerous card-issuing companies
show that on a 10-point scale, gift cards have a satisfaction rate
of 9. Gift cards are designed to allow complete satisfaction when
it comes to the amount a person wants to spend. Bankrate's study
shows that denomination ranges are across the board, ranging from
$5 to $5,000.
Data for this year show the average person will spend
$44 per gift card.
Gift cards also satisfy retailers. The cards bring
in more revenue, because most shoppers with gift card in hand spend,
on average, 140 percent of the card's face value.
The trend shift in gift cards will also continue as time goes
by. According to the National Retail Association, consumers will see more customized
gift cards with personal pictures, music, movies and elaborate gift wrapping for
Horne says he is already starting to see a niche in
the gift card industry in the form of electronic gift cards. Amazon.com
is starting to offer codes in which a string of numbers and characters
are used to purchase a gift instantly online.
Horne also says that European countries are starting
to develop gift certificates that are able to be sent to cell phones.
"The text message has a UPC code that the retailer
can scan right from your phone and you receive your gift in just
seconds. Gift cards will grow beyond paper and plastic."
The continual evolution of gift
cards means enhanced gift giving ahead and a much lighter bag
for Santa to carry.
For its annual gift
card survey, Bankrate.com polled the top
20 retailers in the nation, and the top
four credit card brands -- Visa, MasterCard, American Express