Gift card spending is expected to decline again this year, possibly impacting restaurant brands hoping to cash in on the season's most requested item, according to retail survey information.
 
According to the National Retail Federation's 2009 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, holiday shoppers plan to spend slightly less on gift cards, with the average person spending $139.91, compared to $147.33 last year. Total spending on gift cards is expected to reach $23.63 billion.
 
According to the survey, department store gift cards will be the most popular, with 38.4 percent of gift-givers planning to give at least one card from a department store. Gift cards to restaurants (33.4%), bookstores (24.4%), electronics stores (18.8%), and discount stores (16.3%) also were among shoppers' favorites.
 
In another sign of the times, gift recipients can expect cards with lower monetary values this year. The average value per card this year will be $39.80, compared to $40.54 in 2008. Consistent with last year, 77.2 percent of people will buy at least one card this holiday season.
 
A recent NRF survey found that 22.1 percent of gift givers say the main reason for not buying gift cards is because they are too impersonal while one in ten (12.6%) are concerned about expiration dates or fees and others would rather stretch their budget by buying items on sale (9.1%). Others worry that the recipient will lose it or never use it (5.3%), are concerned that the company will go out of business (5.6%) or aren't sure which company to buy a card from (6.6%).

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