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Gift card market experiences highest ever year-on-year increase in sales

The UK’s gift card and voucher market has experienced its highest ever year-on-year increase in sales according to the latest statistics from The UK Gift Card & Voucher Association (UKGCVA), the trade body representing the UK gift card and voucher market.

The report, by Ernst & Young, reveals a growth of 15.6% in gift card and voucher sales in Q1 of 2011 compared with the same period in 2010.

These statistics buck a trend of decline across the wider retail sector and are particularly positive in light of the recent report from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which states that growth in retail sales is the lowest in 16 years. Business-to-business (B2B) sales accounts are up by 22.8% over the period, compared with 2.7% last year. Online sales for the B2B sector increased b 163%.

Continuing to form an important part of the corporate sector, paper vouchers experienced sales growth of 14% compared to Q1 2010. Despite the decline in household consumption and negative retail sales growth, consumer sales of gift cards and vouchers have seen a 5.8% increase, whilst in store consumer purchases are up 7.1%

The report assesses data submitted by UKGCVA members which include leading high street retailers, department stores, supermarkets, online retailers, B2B agencies and industry service providers, and is the most authoritative report compiled for this lucrative industry. Across both the corporate and consumer sectors, the sales of gift cards and vouchers by retailers performed considerably well, up by 15% and 6% respectively.

The leisure and retailer sectors are bolstered by corporate sales, up by 12% overall and beating wider leisure market performance of 6%. The increase came exclusively from B2B sales, delivering 32% growth over the period.

Andrew Johnson, director general of The UKGCVA, said: "These latest sales figures are extremely positive for the industry with strong performances across the board. The significant increase from the B2B sector reflects the dynamic approach businesses are taking to incentivise and motivate staff. In the consumer market, vouchers and gift cards provide the ideal gifting solution and despite negative general retail sales, it's encouraging to see this increase in gift card and voucher sales across the consumer sector which we hope will continue into Q2."

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