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5 Gift Card Stats You Need to Know to Maximize Revenue

Whether you’re buying them as birthday gifts or as holiday presents, gift cards remain the most preferred and most purchased gift item.

A study by Blackhawk Network estimates that 95% of all American households have either bought or received gift cards, with the average shopper buying about 5 gift cards annually, spending an estimated $256 in total.

But why are gift cards popular? What makes them so desired? Experts says gift cards are sought after because they offer the convenience of letting the recipient get what they want, when they want it. They also make the task of buying gifts easier for the giver. And for businesses, gift cards are great marketing tools for keeping customers loyal.


If you’re running a gift card program, here are some important gift card statistics that you should capitalize on:

Gift Card Statistic No. 1: When are gift cards usually bought?

According to a consumer survey by First Data, seasonal or occasion-based gift cards drive purchase decisions for some consumers. The same research finds that birthdays and Christmas are the top two occasions that spur gifting.




 % Giving








Thank You Gift



No Special Occasion



Mother's Day



Father's Day










Source: First Data Gift Card Marketing Guide

In a separate study published by the National Retail Federation, they found that 80% of holiday shoppers will be including a gift card in their shopping list this year.

Take advantage of key shopping times of the year by implementing gift card promotions to maximize revenue. Update your gift card designs to reflect different occasions like Birthdays, Mother’s Day, and Christmas. ID Superstore offers on-demand custom gift card printing, complete with encoding options. Call 1-800-667-1772 to talk to a card professional today.

Gift Card Statistic No. 2: What is the average acquisition value?

In a Gift Card Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics for the National Retail Federation, they found that gift card buyers will spend an average of $163.16 on gift cards this year, translating to about 4% increase from the 2012 average.  The same study projects that consumers will also spend more on the cards they purchase. Those planning to buy gift cards will spend an average $45.16 per card, up from the 2012 average of $43.75. Shoppers older than 65 years old will spend the most at an average of $175.96, followed by 35-44 year olds who will be spending an average of $171.15 on gift cards. Furthermore, men will spend approximately $20 more than women on gift cards this holiday season.

Cash in on increased spending this holiday season. See our previous article on starting a gift card program for tips on how to promote your gift cards.

Gift Card Statistic No. 3: How many gift cards are redeemed or go unused?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that $1 billion in gift cards will not be redeemed. This is called breakage in the gift card industry. Because you don’t have to provide any goods or services for unredeemed gift cards, breakage can be a profitable “side effect” of running a gift card program.

Over the years, however, breakage has gone down with the rate going down to just 1.6%, according to industry estimates. This is because of laws that mandate longer gift card expiration dates (up to 5 years from activation). This good for both the consumer and merchants as it makes gift cards more attractive to buyers.

Gift cards are popular, so why do they go unredeemed? There are 3 main reasons:

  1. They are usually lost or forgotten. This is especially true for digital gift cards that are sent via e-mail.
  2. It was a gift card to a store that the receiver never or rarely visits.
  3. Gift cards have a preset value. Unless the receiver spends over and beyond the amount of the gift card, it’s nearly impossible to fully exhaust the dollar value of the card with taxes and fees factored in.

Store-branded gift cards or closed-loop cards continue to be the preferred type of gift card because don’t usually have processing fees. Use this to your advantage and highlight this bit of information in your marketing efforts.

Gift Card Statistic No. 4: How soon after purchase, are gift cards redeemed?

According to a 2010 Consumer Insights Gift Card Survey conducted by First Data, the gift cards that are redeemed most quickly, typically within four weeks or less after they are received, are those that are for:

  • Gas stations
  • Grocery stores
  • Discount stores

Meanwhile, gift cards for restaurants (fine dining, casual dining, and fastfood) are usually redeemed within 1 to 6 months from receipt.

If your business belongs to any of the industry listed above, utilize this information to tailor fit your gift card promotions and other marketing initiatives.

Gift Card Statistic No. 5:  Who typically buys gift cards?

According the 2010 US Gift Card Consumer Insights Study published by First Data, gift card purchasers are predominantly Caucasians (68%) followed by Hispanic Americans (14%), African Americans (11%), Asians (5%), Native Americans (1%) and others (1%).  In terms of age, the top buyers of gift cards are shoppers over the age of 55 (32%) followed by 45-54 year olds (19%), 35-44 year olds (18%), 25-34 year olds (18%), and 18-24 year olds (13%).

Understanding your gift card customer demographic is crucial in keeping your sales up. Leverage this data to cater to their preference and boost sales.

Are you looking to reduce your gift card production costs? We can help. Call 1-800-667-1772 to speak with our sales associates about custom gift card printing.

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