Feb 28, 2022
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UK gift card sales rise, but driven by leisure cards rather than retail

Feb 28, 2022

UK retail gift card sales fell by 3.1% year-on-year in the second half making it clear that consumers are still favouring gift cards when buying presents for friends and family.

Photo: Public domain

But the latest figures also showed that those consumers are increasingly embracing experience-led gifting, after suffering extended periods in lockdown. And that should be good news for fashion.

Demand for leisure gift cards has “exploded”, according to new research from the Gift Card & Voucher Association (GCVA), with experiences such as meals out, trips to the theatre, and travel topping the list. And that should involve wardrobe refreshes by association.

GCVA said leisure gift card sales increased 110% year-on-year in the second half of 2021. Sales of leisure gift cards also grew 74.7% on a rolling-year basis as restrictions eased.

Notably, business-to-consumer sales surged by 14.1% on a rolling-year basis in 2021, growing by 12.6% in the last six months of the year compared with the same period in 2020. 

Looking at the market share for digital gifting products vs physical gift cards, the findings revealed that the former continues to grow in prominence, up 15% on a rolling-year basis across 2021. 

However, physical gift cards still retain a strong place in the market and also show continued growth, with sales having increased by 5.2% on a rolling-year basis, and having remained stable on a like-for-like basis. 

“While sales of leisure gift cards fell during the Covid-19 pandemic, this rediscovered appetite for experiences grew exponentially as restrictions were eased further”, GCVA noted. 

Previous research carried out in summer 2021 revealed that 15.8% viewed gift cards as “a great way to purchase experiences to enjoy once restrictions lift”. 

The survey also found 24.8% of the public specifically purchased gift cards during this period to enjoy experiences with loved ones, or to visit a favourite restaurant or pub.

Commenting on the latest figures complied by KPMG , Don Williams, Retail Partner at KPMG UK, said: “Retail sales for the last six months have been resilient but sales growth of 7.7% in the gift card and voucher segment has out-performed. The shift to digital that accelerated as a necessity during the various lockdowns has moved to a matter of choice and habit for many. This trend, of a locked-in step up in digital activity, is mirrored in a 15% growth in sales of digital gift cards.” 

He added: “The gift card and voucher sector has a huge opportunity to deliver on these priorities, for both customers and the businesses that serve them. Ensuring there is the offer of a gift card programme and/or expanding programmes to include more digital offerings, which can be redeemed at any time in line with changing consumer needs and desires, must surely be on the agenda for most if not all consumer facing businesses.”

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