(BPT) - It’s a shopping season like no other. Fifty-seven percent of shoppers surveyed report that they are likely to change their gifting habits this holiday season because of COVID-19. As a result, shoppers are relying on a long-time favorite — gift cards — as a gift that can lessen the headache of 2020. This year’s most requested gift allows consumers to shop online or load gifts into mobile wallets, making shopping simpler and safer.
“Gift cards have been the most requested gift for fourteen years in a row,” said Megan Flanagan, executive director of the of the non-profit Retail Gift Card Association. “And they couldn’t be easier to buy. Most people are still visiting grocery stores during the pandemic, where you can find gift card malls that offer plenty of options for everyone on your list. Some grocers even offer curbside pickup of gift cards.”
Most gift cards also come in digital form, called eGifts, which can be completely contactless: bought, given and spent digitally. However, physical gift cards can be spent online, too.
“So, whether you give gift cards or eGifts, your recipients don’t have to worry about using them in person or shopping in crowded malls if they don’t want to,” continued Flanagan. “And, when your recipients get to buy what they want, where they want, they never have to worry about returning a gift they can’t use.”
As gift cards continue to grow in popularity, and the social landscape is changing due to the pandemic, gift cards are increasingly being used to connect people through shared experiences, virtually.
“With people spending more time at home, we’ve seen food delivery, streaming and gaming, and home improvement gift cards increasing in popularity,” said Shelley Hunter, the Gift Card Girlfriend at GiftCards.com and gifting expert. “Shoppers are looking for creative ways to celebrate, like choosing gift cards that create an at-home experience. For instance: a Grubhub gift card paired with a new jigsaw puzzle, or gaming and streaming gift cards given with a cozy blanket.”
Another gift card trend this year is multi-store cards featuring an assortment of retailers, restaurants and entertainment options on a single card, giving recipients more freedom to choose where to spend their gift. Some popular options include:
- Happy Cards®: a universally giftable line of multi-store cards coupled together for various themes, including two great holiday options, called Happy® Holidays and Holiday Favorites.
- Giving Good™: 88% of the US shoppers surveyed plan to make charitable donations this year, and Giving Good cards are the perfect way to give gifts that people love and also support the community. Giving Good cards benefit some of America's top charitable causes.
- Choice Cards: bring together higher-end retailers and restaurants all on one card.
- Spafinder: turns someone's every day into a spa day. A Spafinder gift card unlocks services and products to pamper yourself from thousands of participating spas, salons and studios.
You can check out an array of holiday gift card options at the gift card mall in your local grocer or retailer, or online at GiftCards.com.
 The “2020 BrandedPay™ Holiday Shopping Preview” report is based on the findings in the Holiday Gifting 2020 study, an internet-based survey conducted by Leger on behalf of Blackhawk Network between August 24–31, 2020. The sample size included 1,500 respondents. Gift card category findings are based on 2018–2020 sales data from Blackhawk Network from over 50,000 merchant locations across the U.S.
 “Holiday 2020 By The Numbers,” National Retail Federation, October 2020.