New report from Blackhawk Network explores the latest US consumer gift card preferences and use cases


PLEASANTON, CA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–When consumers reconnect with the world around them, new research1 out Blackhawk Network, a leading provider of global branded payments, highlights shopping patterns and preferences and provides retail marketers with insights into how consumers are using gift cards. Today’s consumers are more convenient than ever to shop online, in store, or both. According to the study, retailers must be prepared to offer consumers more hybrid online/in-store shopping options, increase focus on self-use gift cards, and adapt to the next generation of emerging gift card users. These are some of the findings of the study, which looked at gift card use and preferences as well as general shopping behavior.

“Retailers have learned to use agility to overcome many of the hurdles that have been thrown at them in recent years. Now retailers must address the latest shopper preferences while addressing the demand for hybrid shopping flexibility, cost of goods and other economic challenges,” said Jay Jaffin, chief marketing officer, Blackhawk Network. “Our new study provides marketers with valuable insight into implementing or adapting gift card and payment programs that have proven to be impactful solutions to many of the changing trends retailers will see today and in the future.”

Key trends in consumer gift card preferences and shopping behavior include:

The rise of the hybrid shopper

Today’s consumers conveniently shop online for in-store pickup or buy in-store and ship. Current Findings2 from the National Retail Federation and IBM show that 45% of shoppers shop in-store rather than online, with 28% reporting they are hybrid shoppers and 27% choosing online only. As consumer preferences shift toward a hybrid shopping experience, so does the gap between physical and digital gift cards.

  • Ownconsumption: To complement their hybrid shopping preferences, consumers are increasingly buying gift cards for their own consumption. Retailers can make shopping easier for hybrid and self-consumers by taking steps to integrate digital gift cards into the shopping experience. Fifty-eight percent of consumers surveyed say they buy gift cards for their own use. Their top reasons for buying gift cards for personal use are: it’s a faster way to pay for things (53%), take advantage of promotions/discounts/points offers (45%) and use it as cash for digital purchases (40%).
  • Where Americans shop: Consumers surveyed most often use hybrid shopping in apparel and footwear (35%), home goods (31%), personal care and beauty (29%), and groceries (19%).

Gift cards can ease pain points and engage shoppers

Retailers have turned to gift cards as a viable solution to many of the challenges they have faced in recent years, including returns, warranties and out-of-stock items. Gift cards also offer retailers an opportunity to meaningfully target shoppers who tend to spend more than the value of a gift card. For many consumers, a gift card is a nudge to return to their favorite store or buy something they’ve already had their eyes on.

  • Overspending: Depending on the value of the gift card, up to 90% of consumers are willing to spend more than the dollar amount of the gift card. On average, consumers spend $51 more than the value of a $10 gift card and up to $106 more than the value of a $500 gift card.

Understanding Gen Z: the next generation of gift card users

Generation Z is one of the most influential generations in the world, and their spending power is increasing. As a blueprint for future generations, marketers should take note and adapt to the next generation of gift card users.

  • You shop differently: More than any other generation surveyed, Gen Z loves shopping and shopping for fun. 38% of Gen Z shoppers surveyed say shopping is a form of retail therapy, versus 23% of other generations. They are most likely to buy gift cards for personal use, with 18% of Gen Zs using gift cards as cash for digital purchases and more than 10% saying they buy gift cards for personal use because they don’t have a credit or debit card.
  • What you buy: When it comes to receiving gift cards as gifts, a separate Blackhawk study of Gen Z graduates found that more than half plan to spend gift cards on something they already need. The most desirable gift card categories among respondents are: Visa/Mastercard, Gambling, Fashion Stores, Restaurants and Wholesalers.

To learn more about American gift card usage and preferences, Download the From Pandemic to Endemic: Understanding the Next Stage in American Gift Card Use eBook..

Blackhawk Network works with approximately 37,000 corporate and government partners and has approximately 400,000 channel touchpoints around the world. Blackhawk connects with more than 300 million shoppers worldwide every day.

Via the Blackhawk Network

Blackhawk Network delivers payment solutions through prepaid products, technology and networks that connect brands and people. We work with our partners to innovate and translate market trends into branded payments to increase reach, loyalty and revenue. We reliably implement safety-oriented solutions worldwide. Shape the future of global branded payments with us. Learn more at

1 The Global State of the Union Insights study was commissioned by Blackhawk Network in March 2022. The sample size is included. 2,165 respondents aged 18 and over.

2 “Consumers Want it All: Hybrid Shopping, Sustainability, and Purpose Driven Brands,” published by NRF and IBM in January 2022. The sample size was 19,100 respondents aged 18+ in 28 countries.


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