InComm Payments’ 2020 Holiday Index: Gift-Giving Expected to Carry On, Gift Cards Top Holiday Lists; Consumers Indicate Interest in Contactless Payments, Safe Returns

Third-annual study shows consumers embracing digital gift cards and new ground rules for in-store shopping

November 10, 2020 

ATLANTA – InComm Payments, a leading global payments technology company, today released the results of its 2020 Holiday Index, which found that consumers still expect to participate in holiday shopping this season, with some adjustments and attention to safety in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on survey responses from 3,120 U.S. consumers, the survey explored consumers’ expectations around holiday shopping.

“It’s a unique year to say the least, but consumers and merchants are adapting, and holiday shopping appears poised to go on, even as traditions like parties and travel are reduced,” said Brian Parlotto, Executive Vice President at InComm Payments. “Consumers continue to value the versatility and convenience of gift card products, and we’re excited to meet growing consumer demand for convenient digital options and safe, secure touch-free payments.”

Holiday shopping perseveres, and consumers are planning their purchases

  • 80% of consumers said they plan to purchase gifts during the 2020 holiday season.
  • 58% intend to spend about the same amount as they did last year, and 15% expect to spend more. 
  • Consumers are planning almost 95% of their gift card purchases. 
  • 63% expect to complete at least some of their holiday shopping in person. 
  • 75% anticipate shopping at 2-5 different merchants in person, approximately the same as in 2019. 

Gift cards top lists

Consistent with years past, InComm Payments’ Holiday Index found that gift cards were the most requested gift and most anticipated purchase for gift-givers. 

  • 94% of consumers intend to purchase up to 10 gift cards, including physical and digital cards, this holiday season.
  • 30% of respondents anticipate buying more digital and physical gift cards during this year’s holiday season than last year. 
  • The most popular categories for closed loop (i.e. branded) gift cards are online exclusive retailers, restaurants and omnichannel retailers. These findings are consistent with consumer focus on e-commerce options, while restaurants remain high, indicating shifts to socially distanced dining and takeout options.

COVID safety protocols valued

Consumers are paying attention to in-store experiences and determining whether they meet their safety expectations. The Index also revealed shoppers’ opinions on touch-free payment methods.

  • 84% of consumers have some level of interest in touch-free/contactless payments in light of COVID-19, with nearly half saying they were “highly interested” in such payment options. 
  • 74% agree that a retailer offering a touch-free/contactless payment option is important to them. 

Majority of shoppers will revisit some merchants

  • 69% of shoppers are likely to visit the same merchant more than once this holiday season.
  • Many respondents indicated that stores not following safety protocols may be avoided. 

Returns a consideration on the path to purchase

Consumers were asked how they felt about returning unwanted gifts in light of COVID-19 – something that may factor into shopping decisions.

  • 83% of holiday shoppers expect retailers to be mindful of COVID-19 in their returns process.
  • 53% say they’ll likely skip smaller returns, but still make the trip for larger items. 

The InComm Payments 2020 Holiday Index drew on survey responses from 2,489 U.S. consumers regarding their expectations around shopping and other activities during the 2020 holiday season. 





About InComm Payments


InComm Payments is a global leader in innovative payments technology. Leveraging dynamic technology and proven expertise, InComm Payments delivers enhanced end-to-end payment platforms and emerging financial technology solutions that help businesses grow across a wide range of industries including retail, healthcare, tolling & transit, incentives, mobile payments and financial services. By enabling omnichannel connections to an ever-expanding consumer base in an increasingly digital ecosystem, InComm Payments creates seamless and valuable commerce experiences across the globe. With more than 25 years of experience, over 500,000 points of distribution, 386 global patents and a presence in more than 30 countries, InComm Payments leads the payments industry from its headquarters in Atlanta, Ga. Learn more at



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