Research and Statistics

Study: Consumers get more frugal, practical with buying gift cards


Even though more consumers are purchasing gift cards this year, they’re being purchased in smaller amounts and used for more practical items, a new study reveals.

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of our partner offers may have expired. Please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch™ tool to find cards matched to your needs.

Even though more consumers are purchasing gift cards this year, they’re being purchased in smaller amounts and used for more practical items, a new study reveals.

Although research by Archstone Consulting states the number of gift cards purchased increased in the six months prior to April 2009, the average value of cards is down by $6, or 11.5 percent, to $46. Also, most gift cards being purchased are for establishments that offer more practical items or services, such as restaurants, department stores and various big-box stores, such as Target or Wal-Mart.

“Gift cards are still the gift choice among consumers, but gift card purchases reflect the challenging economic times,” says Archstone founder Dave Sievers, in a statement released Thursday. “Values per card are down, and the focus — similar to last year — is on the pragmatic, not frivolous.”

Archstone is predicting that this holiday season’s gift card market will range between staying flat at $24.9 billion and decreasing by 5 percent. Archstone also predicts that the sales for the 2009 holiday retail season will fall by 1 percent compared to 2008’s holiday sales results.That overall sales drop is identical to the one projected earlier this month by the National Retail Federation.

While overall sales may decline, online gift card purchasing and distribution is increasing, Archstone says. Several retailers, such as CVS and Travelocity, have begun to offer an online gift card service, where a customer can pay for and e-mail a gift card to its recipient.

See related: Gift cards: Everything you need to know, 4 ways to receive bonus gift cards, How to replace a lost or stolen gift card, Tips to get the most from bankrupt retailers’ gift cards


Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

What’s up next?

In Research and Statistics

Major issuers’ rate hikes send national average card APR higher

Several credit card issuers raised interest rates this week, driving the national average annual percentage rate on new credit card offers upward for the third straight week to 12.64 percent, according to the Weekly Credit Card Rate Report

See more stories
Credit Card Rate Report Updated: August 5th, 2020
Cash Back

Questions or comments?

Contact us

Editorial corrections policies

Learn more

Join the Discussion

We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, do not disclose confidential or personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. Anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

The editorial content on is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company’s business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.