Paytronix Reports 43% Rise in Year-Over-Year Gift Card Sales

Data show a return to pre-pandemic numbers but with some caveats.

January 03, 2022

Gift Card and Coffee

NEWTON, Mass.—Paytronix Systems Inc. today released a preliminary analysis of restaurant holiday gift card sales, which suggests a return to normal for some brands and predicts a strong start to 2022. Early indicators show this season finishing slightly ahead of 2019, the last year before the pandemic. But a deeper dive into the data suggests a large divide between winners and losers. 

Overall, Paytronix numbers indicate a 43% increase in the number of cards sold during the 2021 holiday season (November 1 through December 24), compared with the 2020 season. When compared with 2019, restaurants sold 6% more cards overall. 

In terms of total value added to cards, 2021 numbers were 57% ahead of those in 2020 and 4.7% larger than in 2019. Numbers were more even when looking at the average amount loaded. Consumers in 2021 loaded an average of $35.34, compared with $32.03 in 2020 and $35.84 in 2019.

The sales numbers exceed the early indications shown when Paytronix examined Black Friday restaurant gift card sales.

“It’s clear that the restaurant industry is starting to recover from the pandemic, but the nature of that recovery will continue to reveal itself as we take a deeper look at the numbers,” said Paytronix CEO Andrew Robbins. “When we look at the median vs. mean sales, we see a divergence, suggesting that some restaurants and restaurant types are getting the bulk of the gains. We also saw an initial surge in fine dining sales on Black Friday that could point to a consumer desire to return to in-person dining. But that early sales spark could have been derailed by the emergence of Omicron during the last few weeks of the season.”

Paytronix, based in Newton, Mass., is a provider of SaaS customer experience management solutions for restaurants and convenience stores.

The gift card sales data point to a strong start to 2022. A survey from the National Restaurant Association found that 62% of consumers hoped to receive a restaurant gift card as a holiday gift, and 24% of respondents said they would spend those cards as soon as possible.

This holiday gift card sales analysis is part of a larger analysis that will be published in 2022. This research will supplement the Paytronix Annual Gift Card Sales Report: 2021, which surveys brands about their annual gift card sales over the course of the year. Paytronix offers an in-depth look into holiday gift card sales, sales by channel and service type, anticipated redemption, and new insights on eGift cards. With the online ordering industry expanding, the report also examines the impact of gift cards redeemed online.

Paytronix analyzed the anonymous aggregate gift card sales for 277 merchants from November 1, 2021, through December 24, 2021, and included data from those same merchants covering the 2019, 2020, and 2021 holiday seasons.