As much as gift cards seem to be a holiday gift-giving staple, new holiday retail survey results from Deloitte suggest they might not be as in demand this year. The consulting firm's annual holiday retail gift card survey of 5,000 shoppers found that 43 percent of U.S. consumers plan to purchase gift cards this holiday season.
While unchanged from last year's number, this year's percentage is a marked difference from a peak of 69 percent of consumers in 2007 who said they planned to purchase gift cards as holiday gifts. Of those consumers who plan to purchase gift cards this holiday, they plan to spend $159 on average; last year, the average was $164 and in 2007, the average was $199.
Even fewer respondents said they wanted to receive gift cards this holiday season. Thirty-seven percent said they wanted to receive a gift card as a gift; in 2013, 36 percent wanted gift cards; in 2012, the same number was 45 percent.
Deloitte's Vice Chairman and Retail Sector Leader Allison Paul told MarketWatch that "the novelty of gift cards has worn off" and suggested that, because more consumers are optimistic about the economy, they may be more likely to buy things spontaneously, as opposed to sticking to a strict gifts budget.
The National Retail Federation and PricewaterhouseCoopers however, are finding different demand levels among consumers. According to the National Retail Federation, more than 62 percent of some surveyed 7,500 shoppers said they want to receive gift cards this year.
A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of more than 2,200 consumers revealed that 55 percent plan to buy gift cards this year for the holidays, an increase from last year's 53 percent, due in large part to convenience. An Accenture survey of 500 retail shoppers, additionally, found that 57 percent plan to purchase holiday gift cards in 2014, an all-time high in the past three years.
CEB Tower Group also forecasts that gift card spending could be as much as $140 billion in sales by 2016 compared to an estimated $118 billion in 2013.
A recent biannual consumer research survey conducted by the Retail Gift Card Association (RGCA) of more than 1,100 U.S. consumers also found that gift cards are still a popular gift choice.