Sherri Goodman reports on the success merchants are having with gift cards.
Electronic gift cards and gift certificates are projected to be the third most purchased item by holiday shoppers, according to a November survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF). Clothing ranked No. 1, followed by books, DVDs and compact discs at No. 2 in the nationwide poll of 8,569 consumers.
John Bechard, president and chief executive of Salt Lake City-based Gift Check Solutions, agrees — and has the numbers to back it up. The company, which specialized in gift certificates when it incorporated in 1998, has steadily shifted its focus from paper to plastic over the past two years. In 2000, 95 percent of Gift Check Solutions’ business was in certificates and only 5 percent in plastic. In 2001, the business was split evenly between paper and plastic. This year Bechard estimates 90 percent of his clients want gift cards.