Got Gift-Card Fatigue?

It had come to seem that the Christmas season wasn’t complete without articles about the rising popularity of gift cards. Now, though, a report from WSL Strategic Retail declares that “gift-card fatigue is creeping in.” The report says 44 percent of shoppers gave gift cards this past holiday season, down from a high of 60 percent in 2003.

In part, this reflects the fact that many shoppers — especially those lower on the income scale — were cutting back on everything, and gift cards were an easy thing to forgo. The report says 58 percent of people with income above $100,000 bought gift cards in the 2007 holiday season, vs. 34 percent of those with income under $50,000.

In any case, 41 percent of respondents would rather receive cash. Consumers often need to supplement a gift card with their own money when they go to the store to buy something. Sixty percent of teens and adults said they “spend more than the value of the gift card” when they use it, which helps explain why many gift cards instead sit around unused.