Looking for the ultimate guide to gift card statistics and facts? Look no further! The gift card industry is booming, with more and more people opting for the convenience of these versatile gifts. But with so many ever-changing trends and figures, it can be hard to keep up.
That’s where our comprehensive guide comes in. We’ve scoured the latest data to bring you the most important gift card statistics and facts, from generational spending habits to a breakdown of holiday shopping trends.
Whether you’re a retailer looking to boost your gift card sales or a consumer curious about the latest gift card trends, our guide has got you covered. So, buckle up and get ready to dive into the exciting world of gift card industry statistics!
Top 10 Gift Card Statistics and Facts
- People bought 22% more gift cards in 2021 than in 2020.
- Fifty-six percent of millennials are in possession of unused gift cards, with an average value of $139.
- Forty-three percent of American consumers wouldn’t choose to pay more for custom gift cards vs. generic ones.
- Seventy-four percent of consumers in 2019 spent $54 on average above their gift card amount. Thirty-four percent used the gift cards in stores they wouldn’t normally frequent.
- Sixty-one percent of millennials buy gift cards, compared to 41% of Gen Z, 26% of Gen X, and 14% of baby boomers.
- More than 50% of restaurant gift card sales occur between October and December, while nearly 40% of those sold are redeemed between the following January and March.
- Globally, $15 billion was spent on prepaid gift cards in 2022, with this number projected to reach $16.23 billion by the end of 2023 and $21.7 billion by 2027.
- The average spend for Mother’s Day gift cards went from $13.19 in 2009 to $18.20 in 2015 and $24.31 in 2022.
- The number of businesses offering gift cards will likely increase by 23% by 2025.
- Nearly 70% of all U.S. employees who receive a gift card from an employer feel like they’re being rewarded and prefer gift cards to other incentives or discounts.
30 Gift Card Industry Statistics
Dive into the facts about gift cards, including seasonal spending and a breakdown of demographics.
Gift Card Usage Facts
Learn more about who uses gift cards the most (and least) in the world of consumers.
1. Holiday Boom
Forty-eight percent of all digital gift cards in 2020 were sold in December, with holiday sales responsible for 50.32% of gift card revenue that year. The pandemic likely affected the rate at which people bought holiday gifts for loved ones. 2020 made the most money in the history of eCommerce at that point in time (1).
2. Eating In or Out
Consumers purchased 22% more gift cards in 2021 than in 2020. But the purchases were still down 13% compared with restaurant gift cards bought pre-pandemic in 2019. In-person family-style and fine dining were the biggest winners, so people still seem to be reacquainting themselves with an average night out (2).
3. Unused Gift Cards
As reported in 2023, six out of 10 U.S. consumers have one or more unused gift cards equalling about $21 million in unredeemed cards. Over three-quarters hadn’t used them, whether waiting for a special occasion, not liking the outlet, or forgetting they had them. Other consumers had lost the cards or spent most of the balance and didn’t want to keep a card with a small amount remaining (3).
4. Millennials Go Unredeemed
Over half of millennials (56%) currently have unused gift cards with an average unredeemed gift card value of $139. About 51% plan on using them but haven’t gotten around to it yet. Fifty-two percent of boomers and 46% of Gen Xers have unused gift cards in their possession versus the higher number for millennials (4).
5. For Mom
From 2009 to 2022, gift card purchases for Mother’s Day have steadily increased. In 2009, the average spend for Mother’s Day gift cards was $13.19. This increased to $18.20 in 2015 and $24.31 in 2022. People are moving from physical to digital gift cards overall, so why should Mother’s Day be any different?
6. Treat Yourself
A study of U.S. consumers covered trends in the amount spent while using a gift card. Nearly three-quarters of people spent an average of $54 over the original gift card amount. Shopping with a gift card also influences what shoppers buy, as 34% of those in the study bought items they wouldn’t usually buy.
Forty-six percent of American consumers don’t care about personalization when it comes to gift cards. In fact, 43% wouldn’t pay extra to have custom gift cards over generic ones (5). The value of the gift card itself seems to win out over how personal it is to the consumer.
8. Employee Appreciation
Sixty-nine percent of employees feel that receiving gift cards from an employer is a kind of reward. Nearly the same amount (68%) prefer gift cards over another type of coupon or discount. Gift cards are a great way to let employees know they’re appreciated for all their hard work.
9. Beware of Scammers
An unfortunate example of gift card statistics and facts places gift cards at the top of fraudulent payment methods since 2018. During the Covid pandemic, U.S. consumers lost $400 million to gift card scammers. Scammers convince their targets that they need their credit card details to pay overdue (false) debts, so it pays to be wary. These cards were used for false debts, like bills, taxes, and other financial collections, so it pays to be wary (6).
10. Big Spenders
Gift card industry statistics reveal millennials to be the biggest gift card purchasers. They represent 37% of gift voucher sales, while Gen X is responsible for another 28% of gift card usage. Millennials’ purchase vs. redemption habits seem to be a little off-balance (see fact #4 above) (7).
Digital Gift Cards
Enjoy a comprehensive exploration of the details behind the ever-popular digital side of gift cards.
11. Get Social
Social media has had an unexpected effect on the gift card industry. The big jump happened in 2020, when 46% used social media sites to purchase prepaid gift cards. This increased from only 17% in 2018, which goes to show spending time on social media is about more than getting likes (8).
Between 2020 and 2021, the practice of buying gift cards in-store went down by 7%. Consumers spent $156.8 billion in 2019 on in-store cards but only $146.4 billion in 2020 (9). People are shopping online more than in person, with a definite impact on this statistic.
13. Hey Google
In 2020, there were more Google searches for “gift cards online” by over 100% than the previous year. It seems consumers initially looked for information about shipping rates, with many deciding to find gift cards that are free to ship or are sent digitally instead (10).
14. Digital Projections
Gift card use worldwide is expected to climb to $584 billion by 2026. Traditional physical gift cards may grow yearly by 9%, but their digital gift card counterparts are rapidly expanding to a projected annual rate of over 26% by 2025 (11). It’s pretty clear we continue to live, love, and often shop in a digital age.
15. Phone Ready
As early as 2013, 46% of consumers wished to store their digitally-bought gift cards on their phones. Forty percent liked the idea of having digital gift cards scanned from their phone to redeem them (12). Always being able to locate a gift card on your phone vs. physically looking for it at home may prevent gift cards going unused in the future.
16. The Best Gift(s)
When it comes to the top gifts people want most, gift cards beat other presents. Seventy-one percent of consumers said they preferred to receive digital gift cards in lieu of traditional physical gifts. It makes shopping super easy when you don’t know what loved ones want most!
17. Plain and Simple
Between 2020 and 2022, 48% of people bought more gift cards digitally than traditional ones. But why the growing trend of digital gift cards over physical ones? Seventy-seven percent appreciate the immediacy of sending gift cards digitally. Other reasons include the ease of buying and sending gift cards this way (13).
18. Generation by Generation
The likelihood of buying e-gifts like digital gift cards varies with each generation. Sixty-one percent of millennials buy gifts electronically once every three months, as opposed to 41% for Gen Z. The number decreases to 26% for Gen X and only 14% for boomers.
Millennials are in the sweet spot of having money for purchases and being digitally savvy enough to follow through.
19. Purists Win Out
Not everyone is on board with the growing trend of digital gift cards. A 2022 study showed 54% of consumers still preferred to receive a physical gift card. Sixty-one percent of these purists liked the tangible quality of having an actual gift card.
Others enjoyed the process of unwrapping their gift card and felt they were easy enough to use on their own (14).
20. eCommerce Trends
Digital gift cards aren’t just easy for consumers; they also benefit small businesses, especially those focused on eCommerce. New consumers are more likely to try out a new business with a digital gift card than without. This often influences consumers to buy over the gift card value and brings in revenue to the eCommerce business (15).
Gift Card Market Trends
Understand how the gift card market changes from season to season and year to year for the people who use them.
21. Ask Santa
Gift cards continue to be super popular during the holiday season. As of 2019, gift cards were the most requested item on holiday wish list descriptions. Fifty-nine percent of consumers wanted to wake up on Christmas morning and find gift cards tucked neatly into their stockings or beneath the tree.
22. Market Up-Swing
Globally, digital gift cards are projected to grow at a 14.2% compound annual growth rate. They’re said to reach $724.3 billion by 2028 (16). It’s no wonder, when you can use gift cards for everything from groceries and online commerce to airfare and movie tickets.
23. Pandemic Rewards
Gift cards may keep working their way into the pandemic and post-pandemic arenas. Health officials in Boston handed out more than $5.2 million in $75 gift cards between 2012 and 2023. The aim was to tempt more people to get vaccinated. Seventy-thousand gift cards were distributed, influencing 1.9 million people to get their first dose (17).
24. Out To Eat
A Credit Suisse study revealed that restaurants sell the most gift cards during the last three months of the year. The oncoming holidays help, with over half of gift card sales for casual restaurants taking place then. Almost 40% of restaurant gift card redemption takes place in the first three months of the year (post-holidays).
25. Over the Top
In 2022, 90% of consumers were planning to spend more at retailers than the value of their gift cards. This trend is projected to continue throughout 2023 and beyond (18). When a gift card feels “free,” people are more inclined to spend some of their own money to get higher-end loot.
26. U.S. vs. China Markets
American gift card use in 2021 equaled 38.26% of the worldwide market at $313.4 billion. By 2026, China’s gift card usage is expected to climb to $156.4 billion. Japan, Canada, and Germany aren’t far behind, since you can’t stop a global trend as all-encompassing as gift cards (19).
27. Prepaid Card Projections
International prepaid gift card revenue jumped from $15 billion in 2022 to $16.23 billion in 2023. Prepaid cards include closed-loop (for a particular retailer) and open-loop (funds available for multiple retailers). This trend is projected to hit $21.7 billion in 2027.
28. On the Up
Between 2023 and 2030, the U.S. gift card industry is expected to rise with a CAGR of 12.6%. By 2030, the total revenue may reach nearly $700 billion. Millennials are partly responsible for the upswing, as are new methods of online gift-giving, like digitally stored gift cards that can be scanned on smartphones (20).
29. Top Sellers
WalletHub’s top gift card retailers in 2023 put Amazon at the top, partly because of its zero-dollar shipping fee. The top five rounds out with Walmart, Chick-fil-A, REI, Sephora, and Nike. These companies vary, meaning their rank isn’t likely because of product, but due to easy gift card purchasing (21).
30. Who’s In?
Digital gift cards are being used more and more by both traditional retailers and online businesses. It’s believed that businesses offering gift cards for consumer use will increase by 23% by the year 2025.
Between Covid-19 spending and younger, more digitally-savvy consumers, digital gift cards may be the most sought-after sector for businesses of all kinds.
How Much Do Consumers Waste in Unused Gift Cards Each Year?
It may be surprising to hear that 47% of U.S. consumers have unused gift cards. Their losses totaled $21 billion nationwide in 2022. This could be due to a merchant shutting its doors or simply losing the physical card. You might want to look for unused gift cards to avoid becoming part of this growing market trend (22).