Gift Card Sales at Restaurants Continue to Recover

Consumers also showed a shift in purchasing habits when choosing physical or digital cards.

August 18, 2022

NEWTON, Mass.—The overall number of gift cards sold in 2021 increased by 22% year over year, but even with the continued growth, sales in the first half of 2022 remain 2% behind 2021 levels, according to a new Paytronix Systems report.

Key increases in sales coincided with the major holidays, including Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, with graduation season also playing a key role. Consumers also showed slightly different purchasing habits when it came to choosing physical or digital cards. While sales of physical cards remained higher overall, their sales numbers often peaked in the days leading up to a holiday, with digital card sales peaking on the day of the holiday.

“These numbers signal a strong start to 2022, with consumers appearing to feel optimistic about going out in person. They also appear eager to treat themselves and others, with fine-dining gift card redemption rates hitting an all-time high, further indicating a desire to return to that particular concept. This demonstrates an enduring, rather than a seasonal trend,” said Paytonix in the report.

Redemption rates overall are lower compared with previous years, but Paytronix said that is due, in large part, to slowdowns in QSR redemptions. Redemptions are up at full-service restaurants, mirroring the increase in purchase numbers.

According to recent retail numbers by the U.S. Commerce Department, overall retail sales were flat, compared with June’s revised 0.8% increase, while sales at bars and restaurants also struggled, edging higher by just 0.1%.