Gift Certificates: Better to Give and to Receive

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Anyone with doubts as to the popularity of gift certificates and books among holiday shoppers should check out the 2002 American Express Retail Index (AERI) on holiday shopping. According to AERI, gift certificates and books rank in the top five of items consumers plan to give or hope to receive this holiday season.

According to AERI, 72 percent of people said that they would be giving gift certificates, cash, or gift cheques as gifts, while the same percentage reported that they would like to receive cash or gift certificates this holiday season. The only gift item topping gift certificates was clothing, cited as the top gift choice by 89 percent of shoppers.

Meanwhile, 51 percent of gift givers plan on giving books as gifts, which follows the 70 percent of gift givers who plan to give music tapes, CDs, or DVDs as gifts this holiday season. Music and DVDs are also the most popular items on the holiday wish list of 54 percent of Americans, while books are the gifts that 44 percent of Americans say they want this holiday season, according to AERI.

The survey, released last month, was conducted by telephone between October 11 and October 18 as part of an omnibus study, and included 800 heads of households, age 18 and older. AERI looked at spending, buying attitudes, shopping trends, and preferences among the general consuming public.

AERI's number confirmed ABA research that underscores the important role that gift certificates play in retail success. Given the popularity of gift certificates, booksellers should remind frontline and sales staff that their bookstore sells a national gift certificate that is welcomed in more than 1,200 stores. There are participating stores in every state and Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Bermuda.

For more information on Book Sense gift certificates, contact Jill Perlstein at (800) 637-0037, ext. 1283, or via e-mail at jill@bookweb.org. To order gift certificates, e-mail info@bookweb.org or call (800) 637-0037, ext. 1292 or 1293.

For more on AERI, click here. -- David Grogan