Gift cards see surprise jump in holiday sales

Gift Cards

Gift cards are typically thought of as the gift that lacks thought, but there’s evidence that after years of declining popularity, more shoppers are interested in purchasing them – especially earlier in the holiday season.

In our annual holiday trends survey, we noticed that despite a steady decrease over the previous three years, gift card purchase intent has suddenly jumped to a five-year high.

Do you plan on giving gift cards as a holiday gift this year?

Source: Bizrate Insights flash survey, November/December 2019. 56,069 respondents.


What explains this boost? Retailers may be responsible for driving up interest. Several, including Target, have been incentivizing gift card purchases with special promotions that offer them at a discount.

Another possibility is that younger generations like Gen Z (and to a slightly smaller extent, millennials) are indirectly responsible for the increase. While there was little correlation between age and purchase intent, there was a strong connection between the respondents’ age and whether they hoped to receivegift cards.

Do you hope to receive gift cards as holiday gifts this year?

Source: Bizrate Insights flash survey, November/December 2019. 51,868 respondents.


Younger shoppers, who typically have less to spend, may be asking for gift cards in lieu of cash to contribute towards a larger purchase or help them buy necessities like groceries or clothes. Older shoppers, on the other hand tend to be focused on more traditional “meaningful” gifts.

Interestingly, although only 48% of shoppers intended to purchase gift cards, far more – 62%, on average – hoped to receive them. While there may be some hesitation (and stigma) attached to buying gift cards as a holiday present, most people still appreciate getting them.

Want more holiday insights? Read our Black Friday and Cyber Monday coverage, and check back throughout December for additional holiday findings.