Gift Card Study 2022: Key Takeaways
March 14, 2023

Our research reveals gift card shopper profiles

InComm Payments’ ongoing partner support includes providing the latest gift card consumer data. To that end, we complete quarterly surveys regarding consumers’ gift card shopping habits – and each year, once we’ve compiled and analyzed this data, we reveal year-over-year (YoY) trends to better understand the shifts and constants in consumer behavior.

Our research covers open-loop gift cards, which can be redeemed anywhere the provider’s network is accepted, and closed-loop (or branded) gift cards, which are redeemable at a specific store or for a specific brand.

Keep reading for the key takeaways from 2022.

Quick Hits

%

The average number of closed-loop gift cards consumers purchased increased by 20%

%

Closed-loop gift card shoppers who also purchased an open-loop card increased by 125%

%

43% of open-loop shoppers buy open-loop cards at least monthly

%

Another 26% buy open-loop cards quarterly

Convenience for the buyer remains the top factor influencing purchases for open- and closed-loop cards.

Big Gains for Brick-and-Mortar

Consumers may have already returned to retail by 2021, but it seems many got back to shopping in 2022. Our research found consumers’ most preferred destination for open- and closed-loop gift cards was Big Box retailers – thus ending Online’s two-year reign as the most-preferred channel for closed-loop.

Elsewhere, Pharmacy gained ground, while Grocery declined – potentially due to shoppers spending more time and/or making additional trips to other retailers rather than all-at-once visits.

Preferred Channel for Purchasing Open-Loop Cards:

Preferred Channel for Purchasing Closed-Loop Cards:

 

Shoppers were also more willing to spend time and energy searching for the card they wanted. If they didn’t find the right card right away, shoppers in 2022 were less likely to go find it online (-9%), opting instead to ask an employee for help (+30%) or leave and try another retailer altogether (+23%) – highlighting the importance of organized displays and appropriate inventory.

More Shopping, More Spontaneity

More time shopping also means more time to make ancillary purchases. For as long as we’ve been doing our research, the majority of gift card purchases have been planned. This remains the case; however, as consumers have shopped more in the past year, they’ve also made more unplanned purchases.

Closed-Loop

Always Planned

  • 2021 52% 52%
  • 2022 48% 48%

(+8%)

Always Unplanned

  • 2021 2% 2%
  • 2022 4% 4%

(+100%)

Open-Loop

Planned In Advance

  • 2021 77% 77%
  • 2022 71% 71%

(-8%)

Spontaneous

  • 2021 17% 17%
  • 2022 21% 21%

Last Minute

  • 2021 6% 6%
  • 2022 8% 8%

(Combined: +100%)

Whether they’re planning their purchase in advance or not, shoppers expect to find cards near the front of the store – meaning the right location can not only limit frustration or lost sales for planned-in-advance purchases, but may also put desirable cards in the line of sight for unplanned purchases.

For open-loop cards in particular, shoppers expect to find their cards on the main gift card display. Their second most-preferred location is at the checkout lane – up 10.5% over 2021.

Where’s the Deal?

It’s no secret that consumers love deals. Interestingly, our results found both open-loop (-12.5%) and closed-loop (-32%) shoppers said the ability to get a good deal or promotion had less influence on their purchasing decisions in 2022.

This doesn’t necessarily mean gift card shoppers weren’t looking for deals. Many respondents indicated they just weren’t finding – or at least hearing about – deals and promotions. And even with the decline, 20% of open-loop shoppers and 15% of closed-loop shoppers said they were motivated to purchase cards by deals and promotions.

How do you prefer to find out about deals?*

* Includes open- and closed-loop shoppers

Shifts in Giving and Gifting

Overall, open-loop cards’ versatility was on display: 51% of open-loop cards were for self-use, while 49% were for giving to someone else.

Closed-loop cards were more often given to others – up to 62% in 2022, with 38% intended for self-use. This surge seems to come from giving closed-loop cards to family members – up 15% year-over-year.

Self-Use Still in Style

Those purchasing cards for self-use have many reasons – such as maintaining a budget, digitizing cash, funding online accounts or shopping anonymously. In our survey, respondents indicated that they are using both closed-loop and open-loop gift cards more often as financial tools. Use of closed-loop cards for money management increased 24% from 2021, while open-loop use increased by 17% for money management and 25% as a banking alternative.

When buying a closed-loop card for themselves, shoppers reported big differences in certain categories compared to the cards they give to others.

%

Digital Content

%

Grocery

%

Gaming

%

Online Retailer

*% intended for self-use compared to gifting

Shoppers buying open-loop cards for self-use tended to do so often – averaging nine cards per quarter.

Top Open-Loop Self-Use Spend Categories

  1. Online shopping
  2. Clothing
  3. Groceries
  4. Entertainment
  5. Gaming and streaming

Overall, gift card shoppers in 2022 continued to find open- and closed-loop cards valuable and versatile – and indicated they’ll spend more time shopping in a retailer – or retailers – to find the right card … especially if it comes with the right deal. Whether gifting for big occasions or those little moments, whether sticking to a budget or funding an online account, shoppers are still finding gift cards in-demand.

 

To learn more, contact us today!