Graduation 2012: Paper or Plastic?

Perhaps thanks in large part to retreating pump prices, 2012’s fresh batch of high school and college students won’t be left out in the cold this year, at least when it comes to gifts [good luck with that frigid employment environment, though].

According to the latest insights we collected for the National Retail Federation, consumers are expected to spend more than $4.7 billion dollars on graduation gifts this year, eclipsing the $3.8-$3.9 billion totals we’ve witnessed for the past several years. That’s about $100 per gift-giver, a ten percent increase in spend over 2011 ($90.42), and an amount more in line with what we recorded before consumers felt the full force of the economic fall-out in late 2008.

Average Total Spend for Graduation Gifts

When it comes to bagging an actual gift, it looks like paper (cash) or plastic (gift cards) is in store for graduates. Nearly three out of five (57.6%) graduation gift givers are planning to congratulate with cash, which has remained relatively consistent over the course of this survey’s six year history.

About a third of plan to reward graduates with gift cards (33.1%); this plastic payment seems to be enjoying a gifting renaissance for 2012, up 17% from the survey low set just a year ago (28.3%). With a wide variety of retailer gift cards available in many mainstream food and drug stores, convenience may be tied to gift cards’ surge in popularity; however, perhaps it’s also attributable to rewards sometimes tied to gift card buying (gas or food discounts, the ability to purchase with credit card rewards, etc.) – a win, win for both the buyer and the recipient, right?

Percent Planning to Buy Gift Cards for Graduates

And, this post wouldn’t be complete without a blast from the past: back when I graduated, phone cards (you know, with the long-distance minutes) were the coveted commodity, not gift cards. My, technology has come a long way [in such a short amount of time]! #congratsgrads

For more on Graduation 2012, view the National Retail Federation’s post: Graduation gift giving to top $4.7 billion in 2012.

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – MAY-12 (N = 8789, 5/2 – 5/8/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

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  1. June 18, 2012 at 9:01 am

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