About 139 million Americans have purchased and/or received a gift card in the past 12 months, nearly double the 2001 figure. Also, the average number of gift cards purchased by a consumer has increased from 4.1 cards per year to 6.9 cards per year since 2001. The latest statistics come from the fourth annual “Consumer Insights Survey” commissioned by First Data’s ValueLink division and conducted by TNS Financial Services Group. The research found that 27% of those who received a gift card in the previous 12 months said they spent the initial value of their card within one week of receiving the card. Another 31% spent the value within one month, while 55% of those surveyed said they spent more than the initial value of the card they received. Also, 83% of consumers surveyed purchased gift cards in person at a store location. Another 9% made gift card purchases on the merchant’s Web site. The average amount spent on all gift cards in the previous twelve-months was $247, compared to $197 in the previous year. ValueLink noted that the consumers surveyed carry an average of 4.2 plastic cards (gift, credit, debit) in their wallet or purse at all times, 14% carry 6-9 plastic cards at all times, and 10% carry 10 or more cards at all times.