ICSC: Gift card sales to drop

The International Council of Shopping Centers has released results of a consumer survey that points to an expected 5 percent drop in gift card sales this holiday season.

Research firm Archstone Consulting released its 2008 Holiday Gift Card Survey, which examined the shopping habits of more than 1,000 consumers across the United States of various age groups, genders and regions.

“We expect gift card sales to dip 5 percent to $25 billion in holiday 2008 as consumers continue to manage the challenges of higher gas prices, higher food prices and a sluggish economy,” said Dave Sievers, principal at Archstone, in a press release. “While our survey found that only 24 percent of consumers plan to increase their spending on gift cards in 2008, potential retail bankruptcies and the potential loss of card value are not factors.”

Among the survey’s key findings:

• Pre-paid bankcards, offered by Visa and American Express, will continue to be the most desired by gift recipients this year, as they were in 2007.

• Teenage and post-college consumers will represent the bulk of the increase in gift card purchases.

• Sales of gift cards through outside locations, such as grocery, drug stores, banks and kiosks are expec