The festive season is almost upon us, and consumers are already exploring ways to mark the end of the year.
Sharing of gifts with family, friends and colleagues is part of the festivity of this time of year.
But choosing the right present can become a major challenge as no matter how well you know the person, there’s always the risk of getting an unsuitable gift.
This is partially the reason wedding planners insist on nuptials gift registry lists.
An effective way of minimising the risk of buying an unwanted present is to buy a gift card.
It’s safe, easy to use and gives the person receiving it an opportunity to buy something they truly love.
“A gift card may seem impersonal, but it is certainly the best bet when you’re not sure of what to buy, or if you have left gift-buying to the last minute.
It certainly does avoid disappointment for both the person giving the gift as well as for the recipient,” says Ethel Nyembe, Head of Standard Bank Card Issuing South Africa.
The popularity of gift cards is evident in the figures. Over the past year, Standard Bank identified 54% year-on-year growth of prepaid gift cards.
On average, 55 000 gift cards are sold in the country every month, generating R110 million in sales value.
Ms Nyembe says part of the reason for this surge in gift card purchase is the innovation which has made gift cards safer and usable in almost every formal retailer nationwide.
“In the past you could buy a gift voucher from a number of retailers but the recipient, however, could only use it within that specific retailer’s network. Now you can purchase a card for the recipient to redeem in any store in the whole shopping centre, or one that you can use at retailers all across the country. A Standard Bank MasterCard or Visa gift card, for example, can be used at all retailers where MasterCard and Visa cards are accepted,” continues Ms Nyembe.
“This gives the recipient flexibility to choose what they desire instead of receiving something they really don’t like, or receiving the same gift from many different people.”
“A gift card is also safer and more thoughtful than giving cash. You can buy a gift card at most major shopping centres in South Africa and can pay for it using cash, debit or credit card,” continues Ms Nyembe.
Another attractive benefit of gift cards is that recipients don’t have to use them immediately, which gives them more time to shop around for something they really would like to buy.
An interesting trend to note, as far as gift cards are concerned, is how small business owners and numerous large corporates are choosing gift cards to reward staff members on special occasions or at year-end. This enables staff to purchase items they need and require.
“An example of this,” notes Ms Nyembe, “is Standard Bank’s Beyond Excellence programme, which rewards staff for outstanding work with gift cards ranging between the values of R350 to R1000.
Using their gift card, employees have the option of pampering themselves at restaurants, or with clothing and entertainment, amongst others”.
“Monthly card purchases by staff using their gift cards amounts to R1.5m – and it is money well-spent. Not only does it save the company time and money spent searching for suitable gifts; our employees are happier as they are able to purchase items that they really like, either for themselves or for their families”.
Ms Nyembe says the sale of gift cards will most likely continue increasing over the next few years as more people, and companies, opt for safer and innovative ways of gift-giving.
However, Ms Nyembe does not expect gift cards to replace traditional gifts.
“Rather, people will have more options at their disposal”.
Visit the Standard Bank website for more information.
This article was published in partnership with Standard Bank.