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Restaurant gift cards, especially fine dining ones, were popular Black Friday buys

But quick-service gift cards may not be as popular in Christmas stockings this year, according to new data from Paytronix.
Restaurant gift card
Photo: Shutterstock

Restaurant gift card sales are picking up–especially those for fine dining establishments. But their sales overall haven’t quite rebounded from pre-pandemic levels.

That’s according to just-released Black Friday shopping data from Paytronix Systems, a digital guest experience platform, that found restaurants overall sold 22.6% more gift cards than they did in 2020. But the total number of cards sold remains down 22.3% over 2019, Paytronix found.

Quick-service gift cards saw the biggest decline, dropping 15% when compared with the Black Friday shopping weekend last year. Buyers loaded 7.9% fewer dollars on those quick-service gift cards, too.

Fine dining was the clear winner over 2020: Buyers bought 89.1% more gift cards to restaurants in the segment and loaded them with 72.8% more money than the year before. The average fine dining gift card buyer spent $145 per card, Paytronix found. It was the biggest increase in fine dining gift card sales since 2018, when the firm began conducting its Black Friday survey.

“It’s clear that coming out of the pandemic, people want to treat themselves and others and are hopeful as they look into the future,” CEO Andrew Robbins said in a statement. “Last year, we saw huge drops in the sale of fine dining gift cards. That trend has not just reversed but has been entirely overcome. The suggests that people are looking forward to dining out with friends in 2020 and are ready for a spectacular guest experience.”

For fast-casual restaurants, gift card purchases were up 27.9% over the year before, with a 32.3% increase in funds loaded on the cards.

Around the country, restaurants have been finding ways to incentivize gift card buying this holiday season.

Food-and-games chain Chuck E. Cheese offered a $15 bonus card with a $50 card purchase, as well as 250 bonus e-tickets with the in-store purchase of a $25 gift card.

Duck Donuts launched a personalized gift card platform, allowing customers to buy card to be sent via email or text along with a video or photo message.

Eureka! Restaurant Group, which operates 25 restaurants in the Western U.S., is offering a $10 bonus gift card for every $50 purchased in a “treat yourself while treating others” campaign.

A survey from the National Restaurant Association released in mid-November found that nearly two out of three American adults are hoping to receive a restaurant gift card this holiday season.


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