When gift cards made their debut in the 1900s, the idea was that they were the perfect way to give someone a gift without having to worry about knowing details like the person’s size, favorite color, or other preferences. A gift giver could provide a gift of choice combined with the thoughtfulness of knowing someone’s favorite place to shop or eat.
As the gift card business has grown and changed, the cards have become more than just a way to give a present. Increasingly, shoppers are buying gift cards for themselves. Table 1 shows how the number of gift card buyers in the United States who say they have bought one for themselves has grown from less than half of gift card buyers in 2013 to just over two-thirds.