Surveys by several organizations reveal that Americans love buying and receiving plastic presents, in the form of gift cards, during the holidays.

A National Retail Federation survey in early November revealed that gift-card sales this holiday season will reach $17.2 billion, accounting for nearly 8 percent of all holiday sales.

Legend Credit says 37 percent of the population got a gift certificate or prepaid gift card during last year's holiday season. But the federation survey shows that 69.9 percent of shoppers plan to buy them this season, spending an average of $34.24 per card. The federation survey shows that the typical gift-card purchaser will buy 3.34 cards and spend $114.44.

Stored Value Systems Inc., a national gift-card supplier and processor, also sponsored a survey, and it put the gift-card buying rate at 68 percent. It pegged the average card this holiday season at $38, with total purchases of cards expected to be $183 per gift-card shopper.

The SVS survey also shows that most recipients figure to spend more than the card's value, making up the difference with their own money, and that most gift-card redemptions are planned purchases rather than impulse buys.

A survey by payment processor Paymentech indicates 35 percent of shoppers plan to give three or more gift cards and that 15 percent will buy at least six.

But interest in gift cards isn't limited to the buyers. The retail federation survey indicated that 48.4 percent of respondents would like to get a gift card for the holidays, up from 41.3 percent a year ago.


E-mail: bwallace@desnews.com