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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gift cards are the most requested holiday item, and holiday shoppers are obliging. According to the National Retail Federation's (NRF) 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions survey conducted by BIGresearch, eight in 10 holiday shoppers plan to give gift cards this year.
The survey found that shoppers are expected to spend an average of $155.43 on gift cards, the highest amount since 2007 and up from $145.61 last year. This holiday season, total spending on gift cards will reach $27.8 billion.
NRF's first holiday survey, released last month, found that gift cards remain the most requested holiday gift, marking the fifth year in a row that gift cards have topped consumers' wish lists.
Not only will more people purchase gift cards this holiday season (80.2 percent vs. 77.3 percent in 2010), gift givers will also spend more on each card they buy. Shoppers will spend an average of $43.23 per card, up from $41.48 last year. Men will spend significantly more on gift cards than women this year, shelling out an average of $164.24 vs. women's $147.06.
When it comes to which gift cards people will buy this holiday season, most shoppers say they will give their friends or family members a gift card to a department store (38.7 percent), restaurant (33.8 percent) or an entertainment venue such as a night at the movies or music event (18.2 percent.) Others will buy gift cards to book stores (19.8 percent), coffee shops (15.9 percent) and discount stores (13 percent).
Practicality wins as the most likely reason shoppers will buy gift cards this year, as 46.4 percent say they will buy gift cards because it allows the recipient to select their own gift. Additionally, nearly one in five (19.4 percent) say they will choose the cards because they are more convenient, easier and faster to buy.
Shoppers not buying gift cards cite various reasons for why: 26.1 percent say they are less likely to buy gift cards this year because they seem impersonal; 17.4 percent are concerned about fees and expiration dates; and 9.1 percent would rather buy items on sale to stretch their dollar.
The NRF 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the winter holidays. The survey polled 8,502 consumers and was conducted for NRF by BIGresearch from Nov. 1 to 8. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent.