Gift card trends you need to know about

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Millennials may be more interested in experiences than they are in consumer goods, and that's showing up in gift card sales.

Holiday shoppers are out in force at shopping malls and on their computers too.

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The big items being gifted this year, as in the recent past include gift cards. The National Retail Federation says American's will spend just shy of $30 billion on gift cards this holiday season. That is up a couple billion from last year. A recent study shows shoppers plan to purchase an average of four gift cards this holiday season. Each card will be worth about $50 and more than half will focus on experiences, not stuff.

Shelly Hunter is the Gift Card Girlfriend. She keeps close track of the world of gift cards and says experiences are where much of the gift card world is headed.

"People don't really post about things that they buy," She says, "They post about things that they're doing."

That's what shoppers told us, too.

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My husband is very hard to buy for so I ended up getting him something really great," Sarah Hamilton from Napa Valley said, "which is an experience."

The National Retail Federation says more than half the gift cards being bought this year are for restaurants, theaters and other entertainment venues.

Another trend is choice.

"We are used to having gift cards for a particular merchant, this year there are new gift cards on the market that give you the choice of brands," Shelley says.

There is a new group of gift cards labeled "happy," that focus on types of foods, particular groups of people, or their interests.

You can take the lead and think outside of the usual gift card giving and come up with your own plan.

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That's what Phyllis Rebarber is doing for her son and daughter in-law, because they like the Sonoma County resort Timber Cove.

"That is where my daughter in-law got pregnant," She tells me, "So I bought it for them again because you never know."

If you receive a gift card as a gift the most important thing you can do is to use it right away. You could lose the card, forget you have it or the store could go out of business.
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