U.S. branded gift card sales grew monthly from February through June this year, according to research from First Data. Much of the growth was attributed to gift card malls (large gift card displays from a variety of merchants common in grocery and discount stores).
- First Data predicts that gift card sales will continue to increase by 1 to 5 percent in 2010. Almost 40 percent of gift cards are sold in the second half of the year, during the November and December holiday season.
- Consumers are not only purchasing more gift cards, they are also purchasing higher value gift cards and are more likely to use them. The dollar value of gift cards purchased in the first half of 2010 was 4.6 percent higher than in the same period in 2009.
- The number of gift cards activated increased 2.7 percent. Powering this growth were sales of QSR gift cards and specialty retail gift cards. The number of activations for both sectors rose by 12.4 percent and 5.3 percent respectively.
- Gift card reloads are also on the rise. In the first half of 2010, the dollar volume of reloads for QSR gift cards increased by 47.4 percent.
First data identified two other trends, direct mail marketing of gift cards and the emergence of virtual gift cards for online shopping. Merchants are making increasing use of social networking sites in promotional efforts.