Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

This holiday, gift cards may go toward gas, food


gasoline.jpgGift card spending may be a little less frivolous and a lot more practical this holiday season.

Based on its 2008 Holiday Gift Card survey, Archstone Consulting expects gift card sales will fall 5 percent to $25 billion this holiday. The firm also expects gift card spending will shift toward household necessities like groceries or gas, or small indulgences, like dining at restaurants. 

Gift cards have exploded in popularity in the recent few years, and retailers typically count on customers coming back into their stores quickly after the holiday season to use their gift cards — and spend more than the value of the gift card.

But as consumers began to feel pressured by high gasoline and food costs last year, that did not quite work out as hoped.