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Gift Cards 04

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The number of consumers who purchase gift cards for themselves has skyrocketed from 2% in 2003 to 21% this year. Of these self-givers, one in five say they use the cards to purchase cheaper gas from large discounters where cash and credit are not accepted at the pump. The findings come from the annual gift card survey conducted by Comdata’s Stored Value Systems. The SVS study found 75% of U.S. consumers, 15 years old and older, have now either purchased or received a gift card compared to 68% in 2003. About 60% of gift card purchasers buy gift cards for relatives outside of their immediate family and 44% purchase gift cards for friends. The average holiday gift card spending is expected to rise by 20% this year to $223. This year, the average card load is $42. SVS also found that 50% of gift card recipients always or often spend more than the value of the card and make up the difference with their own money. More than 40% of those who receive gift cards use them up within one month of receiving it, and only about 4% keep a card without using it for more than one year. The number one occasion for gift card purchases is birthdays (84%), followed by the winter holidays (68%).

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