Americans Spent $28B on Gift Cards for Others, $11B on Gift Cards For Themselves

ROCKVILLE, Md., Jan. 9, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The winter holidays have passed, but America’s retail sector has likely only begun to see the full influx of shoppers wielding gift cards given to them as Christmas presents or for some other special occasion during 2016 (or 2015, or 2014, or…). Fact is, gift cards have become not only an acceptable substitute for more traditional gift options, but are increasingly expected and eagerly used, especially among “older” Millennial adults, according to market research firm Packaged Facts in the report Prepaid and Gift Cards in the U.S., 5th Edition.

In the report, Packaged Facts presents a gift card market size segmented by gift giving occasion and recipient. The company conservatively estimates that U.S. adults spent $46 billion on gift cards in the last 12 months. Of this amount, consumers spent $28 billion on gift cards given to others, and they spent $11 billion on gift cards they gave to themselves. Consumers also received $7 billion worth of gift cards from their employers.

By gift card giving occasion, Christmas reigns as the largest gift card giving occasion by dollar value. Consumers spent more than $9 billion on gift cards for others earmarked for Christmas, accounting for 33% of gift card spend on others. Birthdays followed, with almost $7 billion spent on gift cards given to others for birthdays. Still some 26% of gift card spending on others falls outside of holidays, with giving tied to “doing something nice,” “rewarding someone,” and “to say thank you,” avenues that can help gift cards move beyond seasonal rationales.

In dollar terms and percentage terms, 25-34s are heavy gift card givers, spending more than $7 billion on others (26% of the total), while 18-24s spend the least. Adults age 35-44s also account for a disproportionate share of gift card spending on others ($6 billion). And having income translates to gift card giving spend: those with $100K+ HH incomes comprised 29% of survey respondents but 47% of spend ($13 billion).

When it comes to self-gifting, gift card spend by age narrows, albeit with 25-34s and 35-44s still spending the most (roughly $3 billion each). Meanwhile, those with $100K+ HH incomes comprised 48% of spend (more than $5 billion).

About the Report

Prepaid and Gift Cards in the U.S., 5th Edition provides industry participants with a wealth of insights to help them navigate this quickly changing and growing market.

View additional information about Prepaid and Gift Cards in the U.S., 5th Edition, including purchase options, the abstract, table of contents, and related reports at Packaged Facts’ website:   

About Packaged Facts

Packaged Facts, a division of, publishes market intelligence on a wide range of consumer market topics, including consumer demographics and shopper insights, consumer financial products and services, consumer goods and retailing, consumer packaged goods, and pet products and services.  Packaged Facts also offers a full range of custom research services. Reports can be purchased at our company website and are also available through

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