restaurant gift cards

Restaurant gift cards set to be a popular stocking-filler

Customers have shown their loyalty to and support of local restaurants throughout the difficult circumstances of the pandemic, and that looks set to continue this holiday period. The U.S. National Restaurant Association estimates that nearly two-thirds of consumers hope to receive restaurant gift cards for presents this winter.

New research from the NRA found that 62 per cent of people surveyed want to get a restaurant gift card in their stocking. Of those people, 62 per cent want a gift card to their favourite restaurant, one-fifth (20 per cent) want an excuse to try a new spot, and 18 per cent want to try a place they would never pick on their own.

In addition, about one-quarter of consumers said they would use a gift card as soon as possible, while 38 per cent said they would use it within a few weeks and another 38 per cent said they would save it for a special occasion.

Those findings were echoed by another recent survey from Blackhawk Network which found that 83 per cent of consumers said they want to give a gift card.

The restaurant category seems to be one of the most popular for gift card shoppers this year, and consumers plan to spend over 40 per cent of their holiday gifting budget on gift cards — a 27 per cent jump from last year’s gift card spend, according to Blackhawk. 

Restaurant gift card sales have already been climbing this year. An August report from Paytronix found that restaurant gift card sales jumped in May and June 2021 and have now reached 91 per cent of the figures seen in the same two-month period in 2019. That May-June 2021 number was up more than 54 per cent over the same period in 2020.

At that time, Lee Barnes, Head of Data Insights for Paytronix, forecasted that the data provided a good reason to expect a strong winter holiday sales season, and that looks likely to be the case.

Gift cards certainly seem to have their place in the current restaurant climate of increased digital orders and a focus on customer loyalty programs. According to Blackhawk’s research, since March 2020, 59 per cent of consumers surveyed have started or increased their use of digital wallets and 43 per cent started using or increased their use of digital gift cards.

While restaurant gift cards can also boost revenue by incentivizing diners to order out during slow and unappealing winter months, they do have their drawbacks. Most pertinently, although gift card sales are better than no sales, they can make forecasting difficult as it is hard to anticipate when those cards will be redeemed.