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Cash Remains the King Among Grad Gifts

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Consumers will likely spend $5.6 billion on graduation gifts this year as they stuff greeting cards with gift cards and cash. 

With more consumers buying for graduates this year – 36% compared with 34% in 2016 – total spending is expected to reach the highest number in the survey’s 11-year history, topping last year’s previous record of $5.4 billion. .

Cash will once again be the most popular gift, given by 53% of those surveyed as they seek to help students with the costly transition from high school to college or college to the “real world.” However, cash gifting is at a survey low in 2017, dropping about 10% from highs recorded in 2007 and 2009. Greeting cards follow at 41%, gift cards at 33%, apparel at 16% and electronics at 11%.

While greeting cards are most likely to be exchanged among 18-24-year-old, gift cards, cash, and apparel are other popular options. In fact, this group is nearly twice as likely to give clothing than the overall average.

While ages 18-24 are the most likely to give a gift to graduates (at 48%), they maintain the smallest budgets at $78.42. The biggest spending is likely to come among parent-age 45-54-year-olds at $119.84 as well as those in the grandparent bracket of 65+, who plan to spend an average $112.34.

The NRF Graduation Spending Survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics.

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