First Data has released information on how this past holiday season measured up in the retail gift card category as compared to 2013. Data showed that gift card activation increased solidly in 2014, and that a trend has begun to emerge as consumers turn to gift card “reloads” in unprecedented numbers.
Specifically, First Data’s findings revealed:
- Overall gift card activation in the U.S. experienced solid 5.7% growth over 2013.
- The Entertainment and QSR Coffee categories showed solid increases in both activations and reloads during the holiday season. Both segments have increasingly utilized aggressive loyalty and rewards programs that are driving sales.
- The Entertainment segment saw a single digit increase in the number of cards activated over 2013, but reloads in the sector experienced a massive surge: 517.6%.
- The QSR Coffee segment also saw a solid increase over the holiday season with 11.4% growth. But similarly to the Entertainment sector, reloads exploded in 2014: up 165.3% from the prior year.
Reloading gift cards, which is still a new concept to most consumers, is clearly becoming increasingly popular. In 2014, the number of cards reloaded increased 159.4% over 2013. Retailers are also increasingly using reloads as a loyalty and rewards tool.