How America Gives Gifts in 2016

In a new survey from Blackhawk Network, many shoppers surveyed report gift cards could make up half of all holiday gifts they give this year

PLEASANTON, Calif. , Nov. 16, 2016 — Shoppers bargain hunt while shopping for gifts, but considerations like the brand and a gift’s overall fit for the recipient are an important factor. This, along with gift giving trends across age and income, were revealed today in a new research study from Blackhawk Network.*

The research, “How America Gives Gifts in 2016,” surveyed more than 2,300 Americans in September 2016 to examine the factors they consider in gift giving, plans and preferences for holiday shopping and the impact the payment experience has in gift purchasing.

“Interestingly, amidst our price-conscious society, our research found that factors besides price may be more important in the gift shopping process,” said Teri Llach, chief marketing officer at Blackhawk Network, a pioneer of gift cards, payments tools and rewards delivered via a robust and convenient network. “Despite shoppers’ fondness for bargain hunting, more than half of consumers surveyed say picking gifts that are a good fit for their recipients is a top priority, even more important than price and convenience. Brand is also an important factor. So, while price still certainly plays a role in gift giving, it is not the main driving force for more than half of the consumers we surveyed.”

Key findings from the “How America Gives Gifts in 2016” consumer survey, include:

  • Consumers plan on spending and giving about the same as last year: The shoppers surveyed estimate they will spend about $740 on holiday gifts this year, compared to $755 last year.
  • Price is not the main driving force for gift selection: More than half of consumers surveyed (55 percent) say picking gifts that are a good fit for their recipients is a top priority, even more important than price (39 percent) and convenience (26 percent). Forty-two percent of consumers also say brand is an important factor when giving gifts.
  • Plastic is king: Most shoppers surveyed plan on using either their credit card (50 percent) or debit card (28 percent) when purchasing gifts. Additionally, credit card usage increases among shoppers with age and affluence, however, the opposite is true for debit card usage, which decreases with age and affluence.
  • Gifts are typically given in-person, regardless of how they are purchased: When shopping for gifts, shoppers surveyed favor in-store shopping (91 percent) slightly more than online shopping (75 percent). However, regardless of how the gift is purchased, 95 percent of shoppers give their gifts in-person.
  • Gift givers continue to love gift cards: Most shoppers surveyed (80 percent) plan on purchasing at least one gift card this holiday season, with most (81 percent) also estimating that up to half of their gifts this year could be gift cards. These results align with the importance of brands to consumers, as gift cards are an extension of branded value.
  • Gift giving preferences vary by generation: The millennials surveyed are more likely to research gifts online and bargain hunt. Re-gifting, while rare overall, is also more common among the millennials surveyed than older generations.
  • Gender plays a role in preferences when it comes to shopping for gifts: More of the women surveyed (93 percent) tend to describe themselves as the primary gift buyer for their household than men (70 percent). When it comes to shopping for gifts online, men tend to prefer using a desktop/laptop (61 percent), while women tend to use their smartphone (30 percent). Women are also partial to coupons (63 percent) and Groupon offers (27 percent) when on the lookout for promotions, relative to men.
  • Household income factors into many aspects of gift giving: For instance, the likelihood of respondents buying a gift for their spouse, their children, and even colleagues and acquaintances, steadily increases with income levels. The percentage of shoppers planning on shopping online also increases with income levels.
  • Gift givers are on the hunt for a good bargain: Eighty-two percent of shoppers surveyed look for some type of promotion when purchasing gifts, and roughly six in ten did some bargain hunting—like comparison shopping—last year.

Blackhawk Network built its business on pioneering branded value payments products and solutions such as merchant-specific cards, prepaid debit cards and egifts. This success is rooted in Blackhawk’s expertise in shopper marketing, shopper preferences for gifting and dedication to research on consumer behavior.

*About the “How America Gives Gifts” Report
How America Gives Gifts is an Internet-based survey conducted by Blackhawk Network in September 2016. The sample size included 2,341 American respondents, ages 18+.

About Blackhawk Network
Blackhawk Network Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: HAWK) is a leading prepaid and payments global company, which supports the program management and distribution of gift cards, prepaid telecom products and financial service products in retail, digital and incentive channels. Blackhawk’s digital platform supports prepaid across a network of digital distribution partners including retailers, financial service providers, and mobile wallets. For more information, please visit or product websites Cardpool, Gift Card Lab, Gift Card Mall, and OmniCard.

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