From birthdays to graduations, milestone events have been the backbone of gift card sales. This trend is expected to continue in 2024, with 56% of US consumers planning to purchase a gift card for milestone events. Examples include weddings (36%), anniversaries (35%) and new family additions (31%).

But according to the Fiserv Q1 Gift Card Guage report, they are not the only driving factor for gift card sales anymore.

Other forces, including promotions, industry trends, where consumers live, and their age, are heavily influencing the growth of gift cards.

Fiserv Q1 Gift Card Guage key takeaways

Milestone Events, Promotions, and Age

  • 56% of consumers plan to purchase a gift card for a milestone event in 2024, with weddings (36%), anniversaries (35%) and new family additions (35%) as popular milestone events
  • Nearly half (49%) of consumers say gift card promotions influence them to purchase gift cards
  • Younger consumers are motivated most by gift card discounts and/or promotions; older consumers by milestone events

Gamers and gift cards

Retail stores and restaurants remain the most popular industries for gift card purchases, with 57% and 52% of consumers purchasing these types of gift cards, respectively. However, online gaming is seeing significant growth, with 32% of consumers purchasing online gaming gift cards in 2023. Of the 33% of consumers who bought their first online gaming gift card in 2023, 42% of them plan on purchasing more of them in 2024

Regional variance

Compared to suburban and rural consumers, urban dwellers are 23% more likely to use a gift card for an item of necessity. Urban consumers are twice as likely to use a peer-to-peer (P2P) app to purchase a gift card, reports Fiserv. And urban consumers are 58% more likely to use a digital wallet.

Expect continued digital growth

With more consumers embracing the digital wave, Fiserv advises merchants to ensure their digital processes meet and exceed users’ expectations. This is especially critical when it comes to digital wallets. Three out of four consumers are using digital wallets and 60% plan on using them more in 2024.

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Remind consumers of unused balances

While unused gift card balances mean profits for retailers, Fiserv says that even greater profits can be found through subsequent consumer purchases. Merchants can capitalise on this by being more proactive with balance reminders.

Use promotions to drive gift card sales

Although milestone events and last-minute gifts drive most gift card sales, merchants must not overlook the importance of promotional events. These are frequented by 50% of consumers. Why the focus on promotional events? They allow consumers to stretch their gift card purchases, whether for themselves or others.