Restaurant gift card sales up in 2021, still down from 2019

Restaurant gift card sales were up 22% in 2021, compared to 2020, but still down 13% from 2019, according to Paytronix’ 2022 Restaurant Gift Card Sales Report.

Sales in the family restaurant category jumped 106% from 2020, while fine dining jumped 57%, demonstrating pent-up demand for a return to on-site dining, according to a press release on the findings of the report.

While the total number of gift cards sold in 2021 increased year over year, other trends, such as card spend, remained relatively constant compared to previous years.

Sales of digital cards in 2021 were the highest for the years included in the report. Sales were driven by the purchase of e-gift cards, particularly for gourmet restaurants. On average, the stored value charge was higher on e-gift cards than on physical cards for all service types except QSRs.

“We continue to see a shift towards e-gifts and the role they play in a complete customer experience. The rise of mobile apps, combined with loyalty programs that include offers such as subscriptions and payments, along with rewards points, creates a much more frictionless customer experience,” Andrew Robbins, Founder and CEO of Paytronix Systems Inc., said in the release. “When all the pieces come together, they bring customers back more often, help them buy more and increase the long-term value of their customer base.”

Other findings include:

  • The holiday sales period accounted for just over 45% of all card sales, up 14% from 2020. Overall sales for this period were up 33.9% from 2020, but still down 6% compared to 2019,
  • The average dollar amount loaded on each card across all cards has remained consistent since 2019, even amid 2020’s total overall sales losses. However, fine dining restaurants were the exception, seeing a 22% increase in average card loading maps compared to 2019.
  • In addition to the increase in family and fine dining restaurant sales, casual dining also proved popular, with a slightly lower but respectable year-over-year increase of 28%. QSRs recorded the lowest losses from 2019 to 2020, but only increased by 7% in 2021.
  • Business sales increased, while third-party sales and in-store sales grew in 2021, but were still down 19% and 14%, respectively, from 2019. Third-party sales in 2021 , although still below 2019 levels, saw the strongest rebound from 2020.

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