Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gift Cards Could Help Consumers Remain in Canada to Shop

Amidst all of the hoopla surrounding the rising Canadian dollar and the risk of more and more Canadians heading over the border to shop, we see a positive sign: gift cards! An Ipsos Reid poll found that 88% of Canadians enjoy getting gift cards, while 72% say they'd even rather receive a gift card than an actual gift!

This will, of course, bode well for the Canadian retail landscape because, for the most part, one is likely to purchase a gift card from a local retailer rather than one in another country. Sure, online shopping still poses a threat in the gift card domain. But, for the most part, I think Canadian retailers can rest easy that they'll be seeing consumer bucks for those handy pieces of plastic.

Although...I am a bit skeptical about the study results: the press release did not mention the sample size of the survey (it was conducted on behalf of Mark's Work Wearhouse), and the number does appear a bit high. This is especially odd, since a similar Accenture survey conducted at this time last year with 498 Canadians found that only 29% would prefer a gift card to a well thought-out gift. This means that, in one short year, 40% more people have decided they'd rather just get gift cards than a gift? I guess a lot of coal was distributed under trees and in stockings last year! We do have to bear in mind, however, that the studies were conducted from two different companies, so the parameters were likely very different. Nonetheless, it does seem like an oddly large jump.

This year's Ipsos study revealed that women appreciate gift cards more so than men (so much for the theory that "it's the thought that counts"), as did younger folks. As a funny aside, Ipsos says that 46% of men admitted to having forgotten to purchase a greeting card to hold the gift card (39% of women suffered from this temporary lapse). A total of 84% of respondents said that they always remember to redeem a gift card.

As for Canadian retailers, those who offer gift cards options will likely receive some extra bucks this year. My advice to any retailer who doesn't offer gift cards is to jump on that bandwagon ASAP; if not for good, at least for the holiday season. If Tim Horton's can do it, so can you. And for those with expiration dates, what's with that? If someone paid for credit at your store, they should be entitled to redeem it when they see fit.

1 comment:

Charlie said...

interesting. I'm doing this article on gift card purchasing habits, and I'm browsing through some blogs to see what people are talking about. I'm in the US, and I didnt know that gift cards were a worldwide phenomenon. It's interesting to know that people are jumping the border to states to pick up these plastic forms of money. I recently stumbled upon this site that manages all those gift cards and airlines miles and all those things that we have 'cards' for. It's funny, that all of these companies offer us these savings, but it makes our life more difficult, so far, this is the only site that seems to offer a real solution to our gift card problems. I guess it's a huge issue in the states. Anyways, good article. Thanks for the info.