NEW YORK; Jan. 30, 2006 – Gift cards dominated the 2005 holiday season as the gift of choice for consumers, who redeemed them quickly on goods that were worth more than the value of the cards, according to the results of a recent Accenture survey of more than 500 U.S. consumers.
More than four out of five survey respondents (82 percent) said they gave or received gift cards this holiday season, and two-thirds (66 percent) said they both gave and received them. The vast majority (81 percent) of respondents said they have already used their gift cards, almost half (43 percent) said they planned to spend their gift cards within one month of receiving them, and nearly two-thirds (63 percent) said they planned to spend the entire value of their gift cards in a single store visit.
The cards also provided recipients with a way to treat themselves to special items. The majority (55 percent) of respondents said they used the cards to purchase something they would not normally buy. When redeeming a card, almost half (47 percent) of the respondents said they spent more than the value of the gift card.
“The popularity of gift cards dramatically changes the retail landscape and extends holiday shopping well into January,” said Janet Hoffman, managing partner of Accenture’s Retail practice in North America. “Successful retailers will analyze and adapt their inventory, merchandising, promotions and pricing to accommodate the new behaviors and needs of gift card givers and recipients.”
The growing popularity of gift cards has introduced a secondary market in which consumers can buy and sell the cards at a discount. Just 13 percent of survey respondents, however, were aware of the opportunity to purchase pre-owned, discounted gift cards. Even fewer respondents (9 percent) were aware of the opportunity to sell gift cards for cash.
”Gift cards could change how we define the holiday shopping season,” said Hoffman. “Retailers might find that the weeks leading up to the holiday are less inventory-intensive, with more cards – and less product – being sold. In addition, they might focus less on markdowns in the week after Christmas, as gift card recipients look for new products to which to treat themselves.”
Other findings of the survey include:
- Gift cards represent merchant opportunities. Almost three-quarters (73 percent) of respondents said they gave between one and six cards this holiday season, and the vast majority (91 percent) said they went to a store to purchase a gift card. Nineteen percent said they spent more on a gift card than they would spend on a gift.
- The gift of convenience. Almost half (49 percent) of respondents bought gift cards because they didn’t know what to purchase or because it was more convenient than buying a gift.
- The majority of gift cards purchased are for $50 or less. Eighty-five percent of respondents purchased gift cards for amounts up to $50. Just 12 percent spent between $51 and $100, and 3 percent spent more than $100.
The Web-based survey of 526 U.S. consumers was fielded in January 2006.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Committed to delivering innovation, Accenture collaborates with its clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. With deep industry and business process expertise, broad global resources and a proven track record, Accenture can mobilize the right people, skills, and technologies to help clients improve their performance. With more than 126,000 people in 48 countries, the company generated net revenues of US$15.55 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2005. Its home page is www.accenture.com.