Gift cards will be a focal point this 2022 holiday season

As the world continues to move away from the restrictions induced by the COVID-19 pandemic and return to a somewhat normal state, the 2022 holiday season will see some exciting new trends in gifts and how to pay for these. holiday gifts. In fact, 58% of consumers plan to change their shopping behavior, looking to use more discounts and promotions, according to research from Blackhawk.

While the 2020 and 2021 holiday seasons were largely marked by limited in-person gatherings and remote connections, 2022 will be a unique blend of pre- and post-pandemic trends. The mass adoption of alternative payments over the past two years is still going strong, but many consumers are more interested in in-person and in-store experiences than they were in the past two holiday seasons.

To learn more about the unique trends that will shape the 2022 holiday gift shopping season, PaymentsJournal sat down with Jay JaffinDirector of Global Marketing for Blackhawk Network, Sarah KositzkeSenior Global Insights Manager for Blackhawk Network, and Jordan HirschfieldDirector of Prepaid Advisory Service for Mercator for a two-part discussion on the 2022 holiday outlook. In part 1, they focus on what to expect this holiday season, as well as the importance of cards -gifts.


Gift cards will be a focal point this 2022 holiday season

PaymentsLog Gift cards will be a focal point this 2022 holiday season

Christmas gifts and savings

Holiday gatherings will be more frequent this year, with data from Blackhawk showing there will be a 23% increase in in-person holiday gatherings in 2022. “It’s not just the case for Gen Z and Generation Y, but Generation X and Baby Boomers. too,” Kositzke said. “And more dating leads to the possibility of more gifting opportunities,” she added.

Many plan to buy holiday gifts earlier this year than in previous years. This is due to fear of running out of potentially out-of-stock items due to global supply chain shortages, as well as trying to stay on budget in these current inflationary times, Kositzke explained. Thirty-seven percent of consumers plan to spend on Christmas gifts before November, while 43% plan to start in November.

“People have concerns about out-of-stock items, and they’re also trying to stick to their vacation budget,” Kositzke said. “They are also really looking for offers. They want to take advantage of any type of savings offer or discount. »

This is backed up by research from Blackhawk, which shows that the top reason for early holiday shopping is budgeting, at 42%, followed by out-of-stock issues at 38% and looking for deals at 37%.

Despite the state of the economy and the many unknowns, consumers expect to spend 8% more this year on holiday gifts, Jaffin said.

“It really fits the idea of ​​the resilient consumer,” he added.

The power of gift cards

For the 16th consecutive year, gift cards are the preferred gift to give to others, according to research by NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics. On average, a consumer will purchase 36 gift cards — both physical and digital — this holiday season, Jaffin said.

“That number may seem like a lot, but think about the things we do on vacation,” Jaffin continued. “You could buy your child’s teachers each a $20 gift card. There are all the people we interact with on a daily basis who we want to show a little token of appreciation.

Overall, spending on gift cards accounts for about half of total holiday gift spending, according to data from Blackhawk. Gen Z, in particular, expects to increase their spending on holiday gift cards by 57% in 2022, from $185 to $290. Younger consumers (Gen Z and Millennials) are also much more likely to purchase gift cards before November (41% vs. 29% of Gen Xers and Boomers).

While many will physically deliver a gift to the recipient or send it through digital means, we are seeing a new trend of hybrid physical/digital gifts as face-to-face meetings return.

Gift cards are especially popular this year in an uncertain economy because of the potential rewards shoppers can receive, Hirschfield noted. For example, he cited earning fuel points back on gift card purchases, which is very appealing with today’s high gas prices.

“As a shopper, if I buy five $10 gift cards for my child’s teachers and can save on gas at the same time, that’s very appealing,” he said. .

Consumers also appreciate promotional incentives that can come with the purchase of gift cards, such as receiving a bonus $10 gift card with the purchase of a $100 gift card, Hirschfield said, which is particularly attractive in the current economic climate.

Additionally, e-gift cards allow consumers to send “last minute gifts” during the holidays. About 20% of consumers are expected to send digital gift cards directly to a recipient.

Kozitzke added that recipients love gift cards because they won’t need to return an unwanted item. Essentially, gift cards give consumers flexibility, not just in what they can buy, but also how they buy it – online or in-store. They can also use the gift cards for more convenient everyday purchases or treat themselves.

“Instead of a dreaded comeback day, you can have a day that’s more retail therapy,” she said.

Rise of alternative payments

The past two years have seen the rapid rise not only of digital payments, but also digital wallets. In particular, the rise of branded payment apps, such as digital wallets for a particular store or restaurant.

“There are now hundreds, if not thousands, of different digital wallets,” Jaffin said.

These merchant apps “blur the line between physical and digital,” Jaffin added. As an example, he cited being in a mall and buying food on a restaurant’s app all digitally, but then going to that restaurant to physically pick up the food.

“So it’s really easy to pay for things on these different retailer apps and then go from store to store and pick up my stuff,” Jaffin said.

Mercator data from 2021 showed that more than 30% of young consumers used a retail-specific app to make a payment, Hirschfield said, adding that when the 2022 data comes out, “I expect that this number increases even more”.

Consumers are also leveraging other forms of payment like buy now, pay later (BNPL) to pay for holiday gifts. This is especially true for young consumers; 27% say they will use BNPL to pay for holiday gifts (vs. 10% of older consumers), while 17% of younger consumers will use cryptocurrency to do so (vs. 4% of older consumers).

In general, “consumers are now much more nimble in how they not only finance their shopping expenses, but also how they pay for their purchases as well,” Jaffin said.

Join us next week for Part 2 as we continue our discussion of hybrid shopping, GenZ’s buying power and unique buying behaviors, and how you can “gift smartly” this holiday season.

Learn more about Holiday 2022 shopping trends and predictions.

About the Blackhawk Network:
Blackhawk Network provides brand payment solutions through the prepaid products, technologies and network that connect brands and people. We collaborate with our partners to innovate, translating market trends into branded payments to increase reach, loyalty and revenue. We reliably execute security-focused solutions around the world. Join us as we shape the future of global branded payments. Learn more at

All BHN data noted in this article may come from:
Source: Blackhawk Network 2022 Holiday Branded Pay Study n=2,001, US, 18+, bought gifts in past 12 months and plan to shop during holiday 2022, August 2022

Michael N. Clark