NRF: Gift card spending to reach $27.8 billion this holiday season

WASHINGTON — Holiday shoppers are expected to spend $155.43 on average for gift cards this season, while total gift card spending is projected to reach $27.8 billion, according to a survey released Friday by the National Retail Federation.

NRF’s 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGresearch, found that 8-out-of-10 shoppers will give gift cards this year, thanks to e-gifting, instant delivery through Facebook, personalized video and mobile giving options. Average spending is expected to be the highest since 2007.

Not only will more people purchase gift cards this holiday season (80.2% versus 77.3% in 2010), gift givers also will 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, versus women’s $147.06.

When it comes to which gift cards people will buy this holiday season, most shoppers said they will give their friends or family members a gift card to a department store (38.7%), restaurant (33.8%) or an entertainment venue such as a night at the movies or music event (18.2%.) Others will buy gift cards to book stores (19.8%), coffee shops (15.9%) and discount stores (13%).

Practicality wins as the most likely reason shoppers will buy gift cards this year as 46.4% said they will buy gift cards because it allows the recipient to select their own gift. Additionally, 19.4% said they will choose the cards because they are more convenient, as they are easier and faster to buy.

For those who don’t buy gift cards, reasons given are that cards are too impersonal (26.1%), they are concerned about fees and expiration dates (17.4%) or they’d rather buy items on sale to stretch their dollar (9.1%).