by Deanna Ting | December 08, 2014
This holiday season, gift cards will remain one of the most popular gifts, according to the Retail Gift Card Association (RGCA). In a survey conducted in November 2014, the RGCA asked more than 1,000 U.S. consumers about their use of gift cards and preferences for giving and spending the cards. The survey also examined shoppers' willingness to embrace new gifting options such as digital or mobile gift cards and mobile wallets.

Some of the survey's findings include the following:

• Seventy percent of consumers plan to give at least one gift card this holiday season, and nearly half (49 percent) plan to give more than two gift cards.

• Alternative payments options are growing in awareness: 75 percent of shoppers have now heard of e-gift cards whereas only 42 percent of shoppers had heard of them just six months ago. 

• The most likely situations during which consumers may choose e-gift cards over physical cards are when they need them to be delivered right away; when buying for younger people who live a digital lifestyle; or when shoppers want to avoid holiday crowds. 

• Ninety percent of respondents do not yet use a mobile wallet, but more than half would be interested in receiving an e-gift card that was deposited directly into their mobile wallets, or giving e-gift cards to others that could be deposited directly into their mobile wallets.

• Most (76  percent) consumers don't require a sale or promotion to purchase a gift card. Sixty-one precent of shoppers who purchase gift cards also do some shopping for themselves at the same time, and of this group, 72 percent spend more than $25 in addition to the gift card.

• The No. 1 reason why shoppers like to give or receive gift cards is that they allow the end users to purchase what they want. Additionally, 92 percent of shoppers believe that gift cards are safe to give.

• Gift givers choose different gift cards based on recipient. For the holiday season, spa or leisure gift cards will be most popular for significant others; coffee shop gift cards are favored for colleagues or friends; restaurant gift cards are most popular for parents or extended family; department store gift cards are most popular for children; and entertainment gift cards are preferred for extended family or friends.

• 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.
"Gift cards provide shoppers with safe, convenient, and versatile gift choices, so we are not surprised to find that most shoppers will be buying them again this holiday season," said Mary Donovan, executive director of the RGCA, in a statement. "In an age when payments technology continues to evolve quickly, we expect e-gift cards to continue to rise in popularity and we forecast that consumers will soon demand that gift cards be compatible with mobile wallets as well."