Consumer gift card and voucher sales were up 4.9% in the second quarter of 2013 when compared with the first three months of the year, according to new figures released this week.

The UK Gift Card & Voucher Association (UKGCVA) said that retailers attributed for almost 90% of all cards and vouchers sold during the period – and retail analyst at market research firm Mintel, Jane Westgarth, has suggested that are various economic reasons behind the popularity of these products.

"We find in our research that people regard a gift voucher as thoughtful, as they have decided on a suitable retailer, but at the same time there isn't the risk that they might choose a gift that the recipient doesn't like," she explained to Essential Retail.

"Because people are feeling a bit cautious they have become even more careful about the idea that their gift might be wasted and this helps to explain why the market is growing."

Rising postage costs could also be playing a part in the continued popularity of gift cards, with Westgarth arguing that the process of posting vouchers is a cheaper option than wrapping and posting a parcel.

Andrew Johnson, director general of the UKGCVA, said the latest figures from his organisation are "extremely encouraging", particularly during a period when wider retail sales and general UK economy are only just beginning to show signs of a recovery.

"The wider retail industry continues to see cautious and considered purchasing behaviour from consumers, however gift cards and vouchers appear to be an exception to this rule," he explained.

Mintel's recent research into the gifting market showed that 12% of consumers want to ensure a recipient will get a present that they truly like, so opt to give vouchers or money as their favoured gift. The study also found that the over-55s are particularly attracted to buying vouchers or gift cards, with almost a quarter of this age-group choosing these as preferred present options.

www.ukvcga.co.uk

www.mintel.com