2009 Gift Card Trends – Lessons From the First 3 Weeks

First Data Gift CardsAs we have discussed previously, First Data has been publishing weekly reports of 2009 Gift Card trends. Here’s our look at the first three weeks of gift card purchasing trends this holiday season.

First Data has been tracking gift card data this holiday season, comparing gift card volumes and sales to those of similar periods from 2008. They’ve released their third week of data (see the original data, here).

We thought it might be useful to aggregate the data to see if any trends are apparent.

First, let’s look at the number of gift cards sold the first three weeks of this holiday season compared to the number of cards sold last year in the similar period. As shown below, overall gift card sales are generally flat, while specialty retailer gift cards are doing very well as compared to last year. Specialty retail gift cards, as tracked by First Data, include merchants that sell clothing, electronics, books, sporting goods, hardware, video, music, etc. Restaurant gift cards are down from last year in terms of the total number of cards sold.


Next, lets look at the dollar value of gift cards sold this year as compared to last year for the first three weeks of the holiday season. As shown below, the dollar value of cards sold the first week (including black friday) was up significantly from last year. In the next two weeks of shopping, only specialty retail gift cards performed significantly better than last year.


These numbers do not include open loop gift cards or network branded gift cards (such as the popular Visa gift cards and American Express gift cards from Visa, Inc. (NYSE: V) and American Express (NYSE: AXP), respectively). We’d love to see numbers for these cards, as we suspect both are doing very well based on the number of searchers on GetDebit.com looking for both.

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