Premium Incentive Products - Inspiration for Motivation Newsletter Features

Feature Story

April 2019

Big Box Retailers See Gift Card Growth

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Big Box store gift cards are more popular than ever, according to recent research from National Gift Card. The findings from its annual gift card report detail redemption statistics for loyalty, rewards and incentive programs in 2018.

This is the fourth consecutive year that the big box category topped the list of reward categories, with 30 percent of the total redemption volume in gift card programs. This is a 4 percent increase from last year's findings.

Category rankings for B2B gift card sales are:

  1. Big box retailers (30 percent)
  2. Open loop (24.8 percent)
  3. Entertainment (10.3 percent)
  4. Department stores (7.4 percent)
  5. Quick service (5 percent)
  6. Gas/automotive (4.2 percent)
  7. Home improvement (3.2 percent)
  8. Specialty (3.2 percent)
  9. Casual Dining (3 percent)
  10. Canadian sales (2.7 percent)
  11. Apparel (2.5 percent)
  12. Grocery/pharmacy (1.7 percent)
  13. Sports and wellness (1 percent)
  14. Travel (1 percent)

In addition to the significant change in big box retailers, open loop (e.g., Visa and American Express prepaid cards) saw an increase of 3 percent. Entertainment, on the other hand, decreased 7 percent.

The top five specific gift cards were: Visa prepaid reward cards, Amazon, Walmart, iTunes, and Target.

When it came to program type performance, loyalty and reward agencies led the charge significantly, making 39 percent of the total annual spend. Employee benefit companies came in second, with healthcare and wellness, and mobile app companies close behind.

The ratio of digital vs. physical card redemptions in B2B programs was 30.7 percent to 69.3 percent/ This was a 7.33 percent increase in digital from the previous year.

"We expect digital gift card redemption and sales to continue to climb," said Eric Thiegs, NGC's chief revenue officer. "We're seeing more gift cards clients in both the retailer and corporate arena look to partners like NGC to utilize gift card API technology and white label solutions to customize gift card programs with mobile and real-time features. This will positively impact the end-user experience for digital gift card redemptions."