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Survey: More than half of Americans prefer general purpose gift cards

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – More than half of Americans (53%) prefer general purpose gift cards as opposed to branded gift cards. In addition, new survey data from Bankrate.com shows that almost two in three Americans have given a gift card, and more than three in four have received one.

The most common value of gift cards, both given and received, is between $25 and $50. People older than 65 and those between 18 and 29 years old are the least likely to give a gift card. As income level increases, Americans are more likely to give and receive gift cards.

Other findings include:

  • 53% of the gift cards that Bankrate.com surveyed can be reloaded, up slightly from 51% last year.
  • 56% can be delivered electronically, in line with each of the past two years.
  • 69% of gift card issuers will replace the card and/or funds in the event of loss or theft.

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Poll: Slightly fewer consumers buying toys this year

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — Half of Americans (50%) say they will be purchasing toys as gifts this holiday season. This is slightly down from the 52% of U.S. adults who said they were purchasing toys last year, according to results of a new Harris Poll.

Being a parent to someone younger than 18 impacts purchase intent considerably, as four-in-five of these parents (81%) say they plan to purchase toys, compared to 41% of those who are not parents of a child younger than 18. And while one in five Americans who will purchase toys (20%) say they will be spending more than they did last year on toys, one-third of toy purchasers (32%) will be spending less; 44% say their spending on toys will be no different than last year. Among toy-shopping parents, 26% say they will spend more than they did last year, 38% say their spending will be no different and one-third (33%) say they will spend less than they did last year.

Judging by what parents will be purchasing, half of kids will be unwrapping games for consoles (51%). Two-in-five parents will be purchasing children’s books (43%), board games (39%) and building blocks and bricks (38%), while 37% will be buying arts and crafts supplies this year. Just more than one-third of parents will be buying dolls (35%) and 32% will purchase handheld electronic games, while 29% will buy sports equipment and 27% will be buying game consoles.

Among non-parents, the top toy purchase this year will be children’s books (39%), followed by arts and crafts products (27%) and dolls (23%).

When it comes to making these toy purchases, almost half (47%) of shoppers will purchase from a large discount store and 33% will buy online. One-in-10 (11%) will buy their toys from a national toy store retail chain and 4% from a local toy store. This is a small change from last year, when 51% of toy shoppers were buying from large discount stores and 27% said they would buy their toys online.

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Shop It To Me releases iPhone app

BY Dan Berthiaume

San Francisco – Free digital personal shopping assistant Shop It To Me has released an iPhone app. This makes Shop It To Me, previously available via Internet and e-mail, available to smartphone users.

Shop It To Me searches more than 100 online department stores and specialty retailers to uncover sales on items that exactly match each shopper’s preferences. Relevant sale items are compiled into a single email and delivered to the shopper, who can click through to a retailer to make the purchase.

Shop It To Me for iPhone is part of a new unified interface that enables shoppers to check their latest sales, to save favorite items for later and find out what’s trending. The mobile app is available exclusively through the App Store in the Lifestyle category. Shop It To Me plans to add social shopping to its offerings this winter.

"Consumers want to shop sales but are tired of being bombarded with emails from dozens of different retailers pushing everything under the sun," said Charlie Graham, founder and CEO of Shop It To Me. "We let you see when just the items you care about go on sale in your size."

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