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Research + Studies

Gift cards are favorite gift of all

Gift cards were the No. 1 gift this past holiday season for the third year running. More than two-thirds of holiday shoppers (68 percent) bought gift cards, and 55 percent of all U.S. adults received them, according to an ICSC Research survey.

Holiday shoppers spent an average of $128 each on gift cards during the 2017 season, a nearly $40 increase over the 2016 season. Among age groups, Gen X-ers spent the most on gift cards — $137 each, on average — followed by boomers (those age 53–71), who spent $125.80 each, and Millennials (18–36), who spent $122.40 each. Millennial gift-card expenditure this year was notable for the leap it made from 2016, when this age group spent just $67.70 each, on average.

Retailers credit gift-card purchases to sales figures only when they are redeemed, not when they are sold. Recipients will redeem the cards during January and the weeks following, the survey found. The generations differed significantly in their periods of redemption. While 42 percent of Millennials redeemed their cards by the end of December, only 20 percent of Gen-Xers had done so, and just 12 percent of boomers. More than half of boomers (56 percent) say they’ll fully cash in their cards in February or later.

Consequently, gift cards are the gifts that keep on giving, from the perspective of shopping center landlords and tenants, because a good many of those going to centers to cash them in will use the opportunity to buy additional merchandise, if this past season’s shopping patterns are followed: 68 percent of holiday shoppers said that when they shopped for merchandise in a store, they tended to  buy additional items there that they had not initially planned to get. Shoppers visiting centers also often stop for a bite to eat or take in a movie.

By Edmund Mander

Director, Editor-In-Chief/SCT