131 Billion Reasons to Add Gift Card Sales to Your Marketing Plan

Yesterday was the first day of Autumn.

As hard as that may be to believe, that means it is now time to start thinking about 4th quarter.  Historically, 4th quarter one of the most robust times of the year for many businesses as consu
mers ramp up spending on holiday gift sales, rush to spend medical savings account dollars, and generally spend more time indoors as the days grow shorter and the air chillier. And let’s be honest…who hasn’t practiced a little self-indulgence as well when out shopping for gifts?

So 4th quarter is big for many businesses.  We know that.  But here’s how you might be able to make it even bigger:  Incorporate gift cards or gift certificates into your business.  Doing so not only plays into a growing consumer trend, but also helps set your business up for stronger growth.

Admittedly, it doesn’t work for every type of business.  Retail stores, restaurants and service-oriented businesses such as spas, salons, etc. are the most likely to benefit from this idea.  But if you can figure out how to make the tactic work for your business, both your 4th quarter AND 1st quarter may look even better than you hoped.

Holiday shoppers looking for an easy gift for the hard-to-buy-for relative, friend, or business associate gravitate quickly toward a gift card.  According to CardHub.com, $124 billion worth of gift cards were sold nationally in 2014 representing a 5% increase over the previous year.  Their data shows that overwhelmingly consumers cited two reasons for gravitating toward gift cards for the holidays:  First, it allows their loved one to select their own gift.  And second, gift cards are easier and faster to buy than traditional gifts.  Cardhub.com projects that gift card sales will reach $131 billion this year continuing a solid streak of increases since 2010.

Valutec.net, a card provider, has reported that gift cards provide merchants an average 32% ticket lift.  With the average sale being up near $50 per card or certificate, it is easy to see how this type of program can provide a real boost to your 4th quarter revenue.

Further, it goes without saying that a small percentage of gift card sales will go unused.  Those are numbers that drop right to your bottom line.

A few best practices for 4th quarter include:

1)    Mention gift cards prominently in all advertising, emails and newsletters.

2)    Create gift card sales quotas or sales contests for employees.

3)    Make sure you have visible gift card promotion signage throughout your place of business.

Gift cards and gift certificate sales soar in 4th quarter each year.  If you haven’t added this tactic to your marketing plan, now is a great time to start.  Advertising and promoting your gift cards in 4th quarter can drive your cash flow up, as well as provide your business with much needed activity and traffic in a traditionally slow 1st quarter, as cards are redeemed in the weeks and months following the holidays.