The Holiday Gift Card Purchase Trends You Need This Season [Square Data]

Square
Editorial Team

Holiday gift cards have remained popular not only as flexible (i.e., appealing to everyone) and convenient (i.e., easily crossed off holiday shopping lists) purchase options for seasonal shoppers looking for the perfect gifts, but also as a top-requested item on wish lists.

According to the National Retail Foundation, gift cards were the most popular item consumers wanted to receive last year, with 60% of those surveyed wanting to receive a gift card. And holiday shoppers weren’t far behind in ensuring their friends and loved ones got their wish: 56% of consumers planned on giving gift cards last year.

For both brick-and-mortar and online sellers, offering plastic and electronic gift cards as part of your seasonal strategy is a great way to bring in new buyers and boost sales.

Get Started with Square Gift Cards.

Boost sales and bring in new customers with Square Gift Cards.

To help you plan for this peak shopping season, and take full advantage of the demand for this popular item, we took a look at anonymized data from more than 1.5 million gift card purchases from December 1 – December 31, 2018, on Square’s platform. Here’s what we found.

Perfect for procrastinators

Whether it’s because consumers are busy or bargain-hunting, holiday procrastinators are a large percentage of the season’s shoppers. Square gift card data strongly reflects this trend in seasonal consumer behavior:

Gift card sales graph

Gift card purchasing increases closer to Christmas Day, with the number of gift cards sold roughly doubling each week during the month of December.

Gift card type proportion graph

The proportion of gift card sales that are electronic on December 25 is 70%; physical cards are preferred 90% of the time except for this last-minute purchase.

With strong indications for gift card sales to surge heading further into December, sellers can plan to meet the demand of last-minute shoppers who will be buying gift cards in their own (nick of) time by ordering an additional stock of cards that will arrive in early December. Be sure to check lead times for production if you’re using custom gift card designs or are creating special holiday versions.

And while there’s been an overwhelming preference for plastic gift cards overall, having a digital option for customers in a time crunch will go a long way toward your bottom line heading into the new year.

Great for seasonal sales

Since gifts cards are the perfect solution for dawdling buyers, they can also boost seasonal sales for your business. While the median gift card value increases to $25 the Friday before Christmas Day, the peak value for the season is nearly doubled by the end of the holidays.

Expect to see greater returns from procrastinators who’ve waited down to the wire to purchase:

Data points graphic

  • Procrastinators who purchase last-minute beauty, retail, or entertainment gift cards increase their spend by 1.5x.
  • The peak median value gift cards soar to in the days before Christmas is $50.

Take away the guesswork for shoppers who might be scrambling by prominently displaying your plastic gift cards at your point of sale, next to your register. If you have an online store, have a clear link to your gift cards in the navigation or on the home page.

If you have both, take an omnichannel approach and let people shopping in store know they can buy eGift cards online with callouts on signage, menu boards, receipts, in windows — anywhere that will draw their attention.

Even better for post-holiday sales

Shoppers aren’t done spending once the eggnog is gone — many will have received gift cards from friends and loved ones. And if there’s anything that bargain hunters can appreciate, it’s the joy of using that gift card to take advantage of post-holiday sales and promotions.

Even if your business won’t be offering discounts heading into the new year, you can look forward to a boost in sales from gift card redemption alone:

Data points graphic

  • Square retail sellers who do $100K to $250K in business have an average 28% additional spend per customer using a gift card.
  • On average, consumers spend an additional 16% more than the original gift card value.

To encourage additional spending, entice shoppers with deals and savings. Create a sense of urgency with a special discount, buy-one-get-one offer, or limited-time sale that buyers will want to jump on right away. Customers will feel like they found something special to spend their gift card on.

And don’t forget to follow up with the influx of new customers you’ve gained from gift card redemption. Reach out in the coming months with email marketing to stay connected — create buzz about new products, generate brand FOMO with exclusive promotions or events, and send them deals and sales that will keep them coming back.

Easy with Square Gift Cards

Reach shoppers searching for last-minute gifts and drive more sales this holiday season with Square Gift Cards. In a few clicks, your business can sell both online and plastic gift cards — and no additional tools are needed to redeem, track, and reload your cards, making them simple and easy to use.

Square Gift Cards are also integrated into the Square Point of Sale app and Square Dashboard, so you don’t have to miss a beat during the holiday rush.

The Square Editorial Team is dedicated to telling stories of business, for business owners. Our team comes from a variety of backgrounds and share a passion for providing information that helps businesses to start, run, and grow. The team is based in San Francisco, but has collaborators all over the country.