Strong gift card sales expected this year

olive garden gift card

Gift card sales are expected to rebound moderately this holiday season after dropping off a cliff in 2015, with restaurants once again likely to be the major beneficiaries, according to the National Retail Federation.

The retailers’ association is forecasting a 5.8% increase in the purchase of all types of gift cards during the year-end holiday season, for a total outlay of $27.5 billion. Gift cards redeemable at restaurants will account for more than a third (35%) of that tally, or about $9.6 billion, according to the NRF.

Gift cards are the second-most frequently given presents, next to clothing. But purchases dropped sharply last year after falling just short of $32 billion in 2014.

The NRF found the typical consumer intends to buy three gift cards this holiday season, at an average price of $46 each.

The association’s research also suggests that restaurants shouldn’t panic if their sales haven’t yet reflected the forecast trend. Fewer than one in 10 consumers (9%) have finished their holiday shopping, a decline from last year, and 23% haven’t even started, a four-point spike from the year-ago figure.


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