Gift cards will be a top holiday gifting choice again this season, with omnichannel capabilities a growing necessity

November 10, 2015

New research from the Retail Gift Card Association reveals explosive shift in shopper adoption and awareness of digital gifting options like eGifts

WASHINGTON D.C., Nov. 10, 2015 – The majority of shoppers will be giving gift cards this holiday season, and consumers want to receive them since they can purchase what they wish. According to new consumer research findings from the Retail Gift Card Association (RGCA), shoppers will be buying gift cards or eGifts for everyone on their shopping lists, and the methods of purchase and redemption are rapidly shifting to a mix of both physical and digital.

The RGCA surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. consumers on their use of gift cards and preferences for giving and spending the cards. The survey also explored shoppers’ willingness to embrace new gifting options like mobile and eGift cards as well whether shoppers preferred traditional or mobile wallets to hold their gift card values.

RGCA’s findings include:

Mobile wallets and eGift awareness are on the rise. Whereas last holiday season only 4% of consumers knew how to redeem an eGift card, 50% now said they know how. Additionally, a third of consumers are “very comfortable” using eGift cards and only 29% have never used one. Furthermore, less than half (46%) of consumers insist on using physical cards with the other 54% open to using mobile wallets, a 27% increase from last holiday season.

Gift cards are always in demand and good for business: Most (89%) consumers don’t require a sale or promotion to purchase a gift card, a 13% increase from last year. 73% of shoppers who purchase gift cards also do some shopping for themselves, a 12% increase from last year, and of this group nearly three quarters will spend more than $20 in addition to the gift card. Most consumers plan to give more than one gift card with 61% of the total gift card spend more than $50.

Omnichannel is key for purchasing and redemption: 63% of shoppers like the option of giving either physical gift cards or eGifts, and 71% said it was important that the recipient can use the card either online or in person. Additionally 37% of gift card recipients are redeeming their gifts in-store, 15% online and 40% use a combination of both.

Gift cards will once again be popular holiday gift choices: About three in four consumers (73%) plan to give at least one gift card this holiday season, a slight increase from last season.

Consumers value safe shopping flexibility: The number one reason shoppers like to give or receive gift cards is that they safely allow the end users to purchase what they want. Shoppers also like them because gift cards are convenient for the gift giver and recipient alike.

Physical gift cards still reign supreme: Most shoppers still prefer to give physical gift cards, and the most common denomination is between $25 and $50 whether the card is preloaded or comes with a variable load option.

“Gift cards provide shoppers and recipients with safe, convenient, and versatile gift choices, so we are not surprised to find that most Americans will be buying, and hoping to receive them this holiday season,” said Timm Walsh, Board Chairman of the RGCA. “We have seen an exploding adoption and awareness of digital options like eGifts and mobile wallets, and are fully expecting ever-evolving payments technology to continue to impact how consumers want to buy and redeem gift cards.”

The RGCA consumer gift card study was conducted via online survey in October 2015 with more than 1,000 adult respondents. The sample was representative of the adult U.S. population in terms of education, income, and gender.

About the Retail Gift Card Association (RGCA)

The Retail Gift Card Association is the trade association that represents the closed-loop gift category. The Association’s mission is to protect, promote and enhance the use of retail gift cards. All RGCA members abide by a Code of Principles that supports consumer-friendly policies for the purchase and redemption of closed-loop gift cards. RGCA’s membership is comprised of retailers from all sectors and including restaurants, general merchandise, apparel, sporting and leisure, and non-store retailers. For more information, visit us at