Average Holiday Gift Card Purchases to Rise About 4% This Year

On average, U.S. consumers will likely spend about 4% more on gift cards this upcoming holiday season than they did a year ago, as improving financial conditions allow people to spend a little more on presents, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said Wednesday.

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Consumers will on average spend $145.61 on gift cards, up from $139.91 a year ago. They will collectively spend $24.78 billion on gift cards, according to the NRF. About three-quarters of U.S. shoppers will buy gift cards, with each consumer purchasing about three, the NRF said.

The higher average reflects what retailers hope will be an increase in holiday-season spending over 2009. U.S. consumer spending in October rose about 7% from September, according to a Gallup poll released Nov. 11. Meanwhile, U.S. gross domestic product grew 2% during the third quarter while consumer spending increased at its fastest pace in almost four years.

Additionally, about 55% of retail-industry members expect 2010 holiday season sales to be higher than last year, with 3.5% saying revenue would be much higher, the International Council of Shopping Centers said in an October report.

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