November 4, 2005, 12:00 AM

Consumers are going online in larger numbers to buy gift cards

The proportion of consumers who purchased gift cards online in 2004 grew 50% over 2003, to 9% of gift card buyers from 6%, reports a survey just out from First Data Corp., which offers gift cards through First Data Prepaid Services.

 

The proportion of consumers who purchased gift cards online in 2004 grew 50% over 2003, to 9% of gift card buyers from 6%, reports a survey just out from First Data Corp., which offers gift cards through First Data Prepaid Services. That proportion will explode this year, First Data’s survey says: 39% of respondents intending to buy gift cards this year will buy them online.

Use of gift cards for online purchases is also growing strongly, according to the survey. 10% of those who received gift cards in the last year used them online, up from 6% the year before. Looking ahead, 18% of respondents said they are likely to make a purchase on a merchant’s web site using a gift card this year.

First Data Prepaid Services’ survey also reported that 54% of respondents who purchased gift cards said they have purchased gift cards for others as Christmas gifts, more than double the 23% who did so in 2001, when First Data began tracking consumer behavior. Gift cards accounted for more than $17 billion in holiday sales in 2004, according to the National Retail Federation.

59% of American adults, an estimated 131 million people, either purchased or received a gift card in the previous 12 months, up 23 percent from 2001, First Data reports.

The average value loaded onto gift cards has fluctuated over the past five years from a low of $41 per card in 2003 to a high of $59 per card in 2004, reflecting increased gift card sales at diverse retail, restaurant and entertainment locations offering lower average ticket goods and services, according to First Data Prepaid Services vice president of marketing, Karen Larsen.

Of those who receive cards, 56% spend more than the initial value of the card they received.

 

 

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