Why Grocers Should Start Promoting Gift Cards Earlier for Holidays

New survey shows consumers expect to spend more on gift cards this year, as supply chain concerns mount
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Why Grocers Should Start Promoting Gift Cards Earlier for Holidays
Gift card displays will be a main attraction this holiday season, survey finds.

Grocers are likely to see major traffic around their gift card areas as the holiday season gets underway. A new holiday shopping forecast from payments provider Blackhawk Network projects that this will be another big year for gift cards, purchased for in-person occasions and sent to far-away loved ones and friends.

According to the survey, 83% of consumers want to give a gift card instead of a physical gift this year. Respondents said they expect to spend more than 40% of their budget on gift cards this year, a 27% increase from what they reported spending on gift cards in 2020.

Grocery stores are destinations for gift card purchases during the fall and winter holidays, the findings affirm. Survey participants said they plan to shop for gift cards at grocery stores, mass merchandisers/big box stores, online retailers and c-stores.

If last year’s purchase driver was convenience in the wake of a largely stay-at-home pandemic holiday, swirling concerns about product shortages are expected to be a factor in shoppers’ choice of gift cards this time around. Nearly a quarter (24%) of those polled by Blackhawk said that they plan to shop earlier this year because of shipping delay concerns and 36% believe current circumstances will impact their ability to shop.

“Our research shows that many consumers plan to buy more gifts and spend more money than they did in 2020, but there have been notable shifts in what consumers find important and how they are planning to navigate shipping delays and potential out-of-stock issues,” explained Theresa McEndree, head of global marketing and brand for Pleasanton, Calif.-based Blackhawk Network.

Accordingly, grocers can get a jump on promoting their gift card options, both in store and in any digital communication with their customers. “For retailers, that means finding opportunities like preparing for early shoppers, providing a seamless digital gifting experience and highlighting gifts that give back to uniquely engage customers this holiday season when consumers’ pandemic shopping habits can either be cemented or will return to prior norms and preferences,” advised McEndree.

As for future buying behaviors, younger consumers are interested in not only buying gift cards instead of physical gifts but opt for digital gift cards instead of physical cards, posting a new avenue for grocers that offer online gift cards. Blackhawks’s survey showed that 61% of Gen Z shoppers and 67% of Millennial consumers are interested in buying gift cards digitally.

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