Toronto, 17.11.2016

Impersonal or just practical? 62% of Canadians are giving store gift cards this holiday season: GfK survey


Over one-third of respondents say they will not be buying store gift cards, most often because the cards are perceived as being impersonal.


Expect to be receiving store gift cards from family and friends this holiday season, as GfK’s latest Holiday Spending survey finds that many Canadians are planning on giving these one-size-fits-all presents.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of the 1,000 Canadian men and women surveyed by GfK this month say they will be buying store gift cards this year. These cards are most popular in Atlantic Canada -- where 73% of respondents said they plan to give the plastic presents – but are least popular in Western Canada (53%).

Table 1: Proportion of respondents planning to give gift cards, by region

Region Percentage (%)
Atlantic 73





Over one-third of respondents say they will not be buying store gift cards, most often because the cards are perceived as being impersonal. These non-buyers are mostly from the 50-plus age group. On the other hand, 34% of shoppers in the 18-to-34 group expect to spend more on gift cards this year than they did in 2015.

“When we see how popular gift cards are with shoppers this year, we sense a huge opportunity for Canadian retailers,” says Juliann Ng, Vice President for GfK Canada. “By customizing their gift cards with more flexible options, retailers can make them more appealing as gifts. Gift cards are a win-win for retailers and recipients -- directly affecting sales growth for stores while maximizing customer satisfaction by avoiding unwanted gifts.”

In the same survey, GfK also found that over three-quarters of the respondents expect to spend the same amount of money or more on gifts this holiday season.

Change in gift spending vs. last year by gift recipient age group


  Kids 12 and under Teens 13-17 Adults
Increase 34% 20% 24%
Stay the same 52% 61% 52%





Not sure




“We are encouraged by the number of Canadian shoppers overall who are planning on spending at least as much as they did last year on holiday gifts,” said Ng. “This is good news for our economy. It seems like kids 12 years and under will also be getting bigger presents this year.”

Online vs. brick-and-mortar stores

The ever-improving user experience of online stores has encouraged 62% of tech-savvy shoppers between 18 to 34 years old to do the majority of their holiday shopping online this year. However, 71% of shoppers over 50 years old still prefer to stick to traditional brick-and-mortar stores for most of their holiday purchases.

About GfK

GfK is the trusted source of relevant market and consumer information that enables its clients to make smarter decisions. More than 13,000 market research experts combine their passion with GfK’s long-standing data science experience. This allows GfK to deliver vital global insights matched with local market intelligence from more than 100 countries. By using innovative technologies and data sciences, GfK turns big data into smart data, enabling its clients to improve their competitive edge and enrich consumers’ experiences and choices.

For more information, please visit or follow GfK on Twitter.





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