Gift Cards: $1.7 Billion to Go Unspent, But That's 20% Less

Gift Cards: $1.7 Billion to Go Unused, But That's 20% LessSales of gift cards should surpass $110 billion for 2012, while “slippage” — the amount that goes unspent — should drop 20 percent to $1.7 billion, according to CEB TowerGroup research.
Helping boost gift card sales past the $100 billion mark is the growing popularity of “open loop” cards, such as those offered by American Express, Visa, MasterCard and Discover ($40 billion). They’re followed by restaurant gift cards ($19 billion) and merchant cards ($36 billion).
Electronic gift card sales have increased since their tracking began in 2010, but sales in 2012 are only projected to reach $3 billion, slower than first projected.
CEB forecasts that roughly 85 percent of the U.S. population exchanged gift cards.
CEB TowerGroup, which has tracked gift card sales and use since 2006, projects that the market will top $130 billion in sales by 2015, with electronic gifting growing from $3 billion in sales in 2012 to about $16 billion by 2015.
“Consumers continue to flock to gift cards as a popular gift choice due to the variety and assortment of cards available,” said CEB TowerGroup senior research director Brian Riley.
Since the credit card reform was enacted in 2010, consumers are better protected from excessive gift card fees that cane eat away at their value
Federal rules say that gift cards cannot charge inactivity or service charges for 12 months. After that first year, these fees could start to wipe away at your card’s value.

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