Retail Gift Card Use Is Back on the Rise
Retail gift card use saw an increase in 2016, marking a much-needed rebound from the decline in 2015, according to a new report from Research and Markets. The study focused mainly on closed loop gift cards—those that can only be used for a specific store.
Many closed loop gift cards are reloadable, giving consumers a chance to add more money to a card after they have already used it. The study showed that virtual card load volumes remained consistent, but mobile loads increased from one year to the next. Research and Markets says card reloads have “become a significant part of the market” with regards to the total volume of gift cards in the United States.
The researchers could not identify what sparked the increase in gift card purchases and loads, but they believe e-commerce played a large role. Last year, InComm released a survey that showed a dramatic increase in digital gift cards. A staggering 89% of respondents said they had purchased two or more gift cards online or on their phones, compared to 72% the previous year. 96% said they were interested in storing gift cards on their phones for personal use, which aligns with a November 2015 survey from Blackhawk Network. That survey found 86% of consumers kept eGift cards for themselves.