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Gifting industry reports sharp digital rise in UK as isolation begins

Tom Shearsmith
24 March 2020

As the UK settles down to the current reality of isolation due to COVID-19, the gifting industry is seeing a dramatic change in consumer behaviour, according to new forecasts from the Gift Card & Voucher Association (GCVA).

Due to the pandemic, consumers are increasingly opting for gifting solutions that minimise contact, can be sent instantly, and enjoyed at a later date. Predictions suggest that least one in four gifts received over the coming months are likely to be digitally ‘pinged’ rather than posted.

Digital gifting already represents 26% of all UK gift cards according to GCVA research, rising to 50% accounting for all gift cards spent online.

Gail Cohen, Director General of the GCVA, commented: “The rise of digital gifting solutions in particular is driving a major change in how we send and receive gifts, meaning they can be shared and enjoyed almost instantly, offering a safe way of gifting that still offers that truly personal touch.

“It’s also worth bearing in mind that many physical gift cards can be redeemed online from the comfort of your home, and can often be used to purchase the essentials people may need to see them through the coming weeks.”

With birthdays, Father’s Day and Easter representing up to as much as 39% of the UK’s annual £3.3 billion spend on gifting for others according to the latest industry valuation, Brits face the challenge of finding ways to show loved ones how much they care while maintaining government-mandated social distancing practices. 

Jamie Mackenzie, Director of Marketing at Sodexo, said: “As most of the UK adapts to the reality of social distancing, many are missing out on important events and milestones that they would normally celebrate with their loved ones. 

“Employers are helping staff with increased Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), and employees are using their benefits to purchase digital gift cards for family or friends, or to support local business through such a challenging and unprecedented time. The amount of vouchers bought and donated to schools has increased, for example." previously reported this week how COVID-19 is impacting shopping habits.

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