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Gift cards expected to help holiday sales

Consumers will spend more on gift cards this holiday season than they did last year, according to Stored Value Systems Inc.
/ Source: Reuters

Consumers will spend $25 more on gift cards this holiday season than they did last year, according to Stored Value Systems Inc., which provides the cards and card transaction systems to retailers.

A random telephone survey of people over 18 years of age who have either purchased or received a gift card showed that consumers planned to spend an average of $248 on the cards, up from $223 last year and $183 the year before.

"Those who plan to purchase gift cards have increased the dollar amount they intend to spend," said Deby Samuels, marketing director of SVS.

Consumers generally prefer to receive gift cards from clothing stores and restaurants, according to the survey. The survey also said purchasers cite wanting card recipients to be able to shop for themselves as the main reason for choosing a gift card.

Stored Value Systems is a subsidiary of Ceridian Corp.

"People usually buy them for friends, but we are expecting more parents this year to be buying for their kids," said Heather Wildeboer, a manager at the GUESS store at the Beverly Center shopping mall in Los Angeles. "Our customers usually start by putting $100 on the card."

Brooke White, spokeswoman for Nordstrom Inc., said the retailer expects its virtual gift cards, which were launched in May, to be a success this holiday season.

Purchased online and sent to recipients by e-mail, the virtual gift cards allow customers to purchase items on-line or through their catalogs. The virtual gift cards have also brought more customers into Nordstrom stores, White says.

"We've exceeded our expectations by a long shot," White said. "Gift cards are the easiest present you can buy and we expect strong sales through this holiday."