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WICHITA, Kan. -- Food and gasoline are two of this Christmas season's hottest gifts both locally and nationally, The Wichita Eagle reported.
Kroger saw food and gas card sales jump "by double digits," spokeswoman Meghan Glynn told the paper. Meanwhile, gift card sales at QuikTrip remain solid a year after high gasoline prices drove a "massive jump" in sales, spokesman Mike Thornbrugh said.
The economic downturn is driving up the popularity of gift cards, with a small break in grocery or gas costs coming as a welcome gift to budget-strapped families, according to the newspaper. While the trend is at least a year old, national analysts said it picked up this summer when gas prices—and thus, food prices—skyrocketed.
"We saw the same thing this summer when consumers used gift cards to buy gas and groceries," Kathy Grannis, a spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation, told the paper. "It would make sense that those families who are more budget-focused this year would use their gift cards to purchase necessities, so it's not terribly surprising."
QuikTrip officials saw gift card sales spike last year, with sales "up a few ticks" this season, Thornbrugh said. "A lot of employer traffic," he explained. "The people with 200, 300, 400 employees who used to give out a turkey or a ham. They're buying gift cards now, realizing that people can really use the gas."
At Kroger, Glynn said anecdotal evidence shows gift cards are popular for family gifts. "To Mom and Dad, or to the college students, especially the fuel cards," she said.