November 24, 2008

Expert predicts $35B in gift card sales

Holiday gift card sales this year throughout the United States could exceed $35 billion, a Purdue University retail expert predicts.

Purdue Retail Institute researcher Richard Feinberg said in a news release Monday that up to $40 billion in the holiday cards, particularly those to restaurants and department stores, could be sold this year.

Feinberg said nearly 40 percent of the total gift cards being sold are for department stores, while 30 percent represent funds at eateries. Other businesses facing a likely increase in gift card sales during the holiday season are gas stations and grocery stores, the researcher predicts.

Feinberg said since most gift cards cannot be redeemed until after the holiday season, recent negative predictions regarding sales during the upcoming holidays are inaccurate.

The increasing amount spent on gift cards means that the sluggish holiday retail spending we predicted earlier is somewhat misleading because retailers cannot count gift card sales until the card is used, he suggested.