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by Leo Jakobson | December 08, 2015
The U.S. appetite for gift cards continues to grow, according to new research that predicts the holiday season will power gift card sales to $130 billion this year.

The "Ninth Annual CEB TowerGroup Gift Card Report," released today, predicts a 6 percent increase in overall gift card sales in 2015, as well as a 26 percent increase in the rapidly growing digital gift card segment. Total gift card volume will grow to $180 billion by 2018, the Arlington, VA--based research firm believes. 

Sales of open network gift cards -- credit card-branded cards that are usable usable anywhere -- will grow to $48 billion this year from $45 billion the year before. Closed network cards -- retailer-issued gift cards usable only at those merchants -- will see sales of $43 billion this year, up $2 billion over 2014. One popular closed network card segment, those issued by restaurants, will grow slightly to $19 billion. 

Digital gift cards grew to $7.1 billion in 2015, up from $5.5 billion in 2014, and will continue to grow rapidly, as consumers and retailers increasingly accept digital wallet (or "peer-to-peer") systems like ApplePay and ChasePay that operate on the users' smartphone. This will help digital gift cards grow to $18 billion by 2018, accounting for more than 11 percent of all gift card purchases, the company predicts. 

For more details, visit CEB Financial Services.