Starbucks Predicting Gift Cards to Be Huge Hit for Holidays

Starbucks is expecting a great deal of business from shoppers who wait until the last minute on Christmas Eve.

The coffeehouse chain is predicting sales in record numbers of its gift cards on December 24, likely topping the North American sales of 2.5 million made on Christmas Eve last year, said the company in a press release.

Starbucks said that since it started the program back in 2000, customers across the United States and Canada have loaded more than $25 billion onto gift cards, of which $5 billion was just in this past fiscal year, and $1.6 billion the last three months.

Though Starbucks expects the trend will continue its trajectory upward, a survey from the National Retail Federation has suggested that the gift card as a holiday gift could be losing popularity.

Although gift cards are still the most requested gift the past 9 consecutive years, fewer people will receive them this year. In 2014, 80% of the responders from a survey said they were planning to purchase a minimum of one gift card sometime during the holiday season, in 2015 that percentage dropped to 73.4%.

Not only are fewer consumers purchasing these cards, but also those that are will spend fewer dollars. The survey in 2014 showed that people on average were planning to spend up to $172.75 on purchases of gift cards for the holidays, while in 2015 that average has dropped to $153.09 or a decrease of 11.4%.

As for what retailers will benefit from the purchases, coffee shops come in fourth with a slight drop of 0.5% in their popularity since 2014. The gift cards that are most popular are for restaurants and department stores as well as top companies in credit cards such as MasterCard and Visa.

The $25 billion that has been loaded onto Starbucks cards is a huge amount. To put it into perspective it amounts to just about the same size as the economy of a small country.

The amount nearly equals the entire gross domestic product of the Caribbean island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, which is relatively prosperous.

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