Environmental issues may be forcing grocery stores and other retailers to rethink and replace one type of plastic (the plastic bag), while plastic of another kind, the prepaid gift card, is quickly supplanting “paper” as the gift of choice for a majority of American consumers.
The gift card market is a multi-billion dollar industry. Prepaid gift cards have seemingly become the perfect answer to the age-old question of “what to give” for any occasion. Extending beyond other old-fashioned forms (e.g., cash, checks, paper gift certificates) and morphing to include diverse categories (retail, phone, books, movies, music, debit/credit) gift card buying and giving continues to gain in popularity.
According to Gift Cards Purchase & Redemption, Pre-Holiday Outlook 2008, a report by The Hartman Group, Inc. and A National Research Network (NRN), nearly three-quarters of Americans have either purchased or received a gift card over the past year. Gift cards change how consumers shop for any number of gift-giving occasions, the most important of which is the holiday shopping season.