plan to expand their gift lists to include more people this holiday season

of shoppers surveyed are planning to spend more than last holiday season





Waiting in lines


Dealing with crowds


Not knowing what to buy
or buying the wrong gift

1. Grocery and convenience

2. Entertainment and travel

3. Health and beauty

4. Home goods

5. Furnishings

The 2019 BrandedPay Holiday Shopping Preview report identifies trends from Blackhawk’s own U.S. sales data in addition to insights from Blackhawk’s latest research report  based on responses from more than 3,000 consumers.

Gift cards are an investment in future shopping and one of the best opportunities to drive first quarter sales. Consumers spend about $32 more than the value of a gift card, and with the projected increase in gift card sales this holiday season, we are excited to see those gift cards drive traffic back to retailers for a strong start to the year.


- Theresa McEndree

vp of marketing, blackhawk network

Most consumers (63%) surveyed are confident in the economy

With strong consumer confidence this year, shoppers surveyed estimate they will spend an average total of


Consumer confidence is high heading into the holidays

Shoppers plan on purchasing gifts for an average of 8 people

Holiday shoppers' love for gift cards continues to grow


While overall holiday spending is expected to remain relatively flat with most consumers only anticipating a slight increase on overall gift spend, we project a 7% increase in gift card spending over 2018.




of holiday gifting budgets will be spent on gift cards





average shoppers expect to spend on gift cards this year





of shoppers plan to buy at least one gift card or egift this holiday season, up from 72% in 2018

Gift cards can help alleviate top shopper pain points


Blackhawk’s research found that many of the biggest frustrations for holiday shoppers this year can be avoided by giving gift cards. Purchasing gift cards in-store or online can help alleviate top pain points identified by shoppers surveyed:

2019 Holiday Gift Card Trends

Most popular holiday gift cards by category

The five gift card categories that were best-selling among U.S. consumers in December 2018 based on Blackhawk’s sales data are:


toys & electronics


Gift cards that can be used where the network is accepted


home goods

Best bets

Brand categories each generation likes the most:

Gen X


Restaurant, online retailer & home improvement




Gen Z


Entertainment brands



Home goods

“Retail Trends and Transformations” is an online survey conducted by Murphy Research on behalf of Blackhawk Network between February 4-12, 2019 and included a samples size of 3,381 respondents between the ages of 18 and 75.

Digital gift cards are closing the gap


Physical gift cards remain the first choice among customers overall, but digital continues to gain traction.


of shoppers plan to buy digital gift cards this year, so 18% over 2018

Most popular digital categories

The digital gift card categories that shoppers prefer most according to Blackhawk’s research are:

Subscriptions or box gifts

Online services


Prepaid cards

Big spenders

The gift card categories that people tend to purchase in the highest denominations according to Blackhawk sales data include:

recreation & travel


toys & electronics



home goods

eCommerce growth continues

*The 2019 BrandedPay Holiday Shopping Preview Report is based on the findings in our “Pre-holiday Sentiment Study,” an internet-based survey conducted by Murphy Research on behalf of Blackhawk Network between August 2–9, 2019. The sample size included over 3,000 respondents ages 18+. Gift card category findings are based on 2017 and 2018 sales data from Blackhawk Network from over 50,000 merchant locations across the United States.


Blackhawk Network delivers branded payment programs to meet our partners’ business objectives. We collaborate with our partners to innovate, translating market trends in branded payments to increase reach, loyalty and revenue. With a presence in over 26 countries, we reliably execute branded payment programs in over 100 countries worldwide. Join us as we shape the future of global branded payments.

After Blackhawk saw double digit growth in U.S. online holiday gift card sales last year and with new products and distribution channels in 2019, ecommerce is poised to continue its growth into this year’s shopping season.


Top five fastest-growing gift card categories purchased online:


The gift card categories (physical and digital) that are fastest growing based on year-over-year U.S. sales data are:

2019 Holiday Forecast

A preview of 2019 holiday shopping and gift card trends