57% of holiday shoppers plan to buy a gift card in 2005

92% of those surveyed by American Express agree that gift cards have altered how they shop. Gift card purchasers say that they expect to visit fewer stores (62%), purchase less actual merchandise as gifts (60%), and shop more online (28%). They plan to finish shopping faster and with less stress (74%). 66% say gift cards have made them think differently about gift giving. 63% of gift card purchasers will shop at malls or stores less often, including the Thanksgiving weekend. A majority (52%) say they will get their holiday shopping done earlier because gift cards are always available. 57% plan to purchase gift cards in 2005, vs 55% in 2004, spending on average $339. Survey respondents plan to spend an additional $679 on average for other gift items this year. Gift cards maintain a strong ranking as #4 on the list of items consumers surveyed plan to give, just after the perennial favorites of clothing (68%), toys and games (63%) and music in all forms (62%).