The Retail Gift Card Association conducted a survey of 1,000 people that showed most people who receive a gift card say they would put it towards something they needed rather than a special purchase to treat themselves.
From Incentive Magazine:
Consumers express a high level of satisfaction with gift cards, but a majority says they expect to use them for necessities, rather than redeeming them for an out-of-the-ordinary treat, a new study finds. A report on the attitudes of users of gift cards from the Retail Gift Card Association (RGCA) finds that only 30.6 percent of respondents said they would purchase something with a gift card that they would not normally buy.
The head of the Association, Rebekka Rea, says that this is in part due to the state of the economy. The ability to buy necessities and stretch budgets with gift cards may be one reason why they remain so popular. This study, and similar studies from the National Retailer Association both show that gift cards rank highly among desired items when people are asked about what kinds of gifts they would like to receive.
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