Consumers Pick Amazon, Lowe's, Nordstrom as Top Gift Cards

Bath and Body Works claims the top spot, narrowly edging out Red Lobster Restaurants and iTunes when it comes to the gift cards that American consumers want to receive.

A recent survey, commissioned by the Gift Card Performance Index released by the Global Prepaid Exchange, assessed levels of performance for gift cards received this past holiday season. Factors such as retailer preferences and service levels were directly related to which cards consumers chose as their favorites.

The Top 10 Gift Cards
1.Bath & Body Works
2. Red Lobster
3. iTunes
4. Amazon
5. Nordstrom
6. TGI Fridays
7. Lowes
8. Walgreens
9. Olive Garden
10. (tie) Home Depot
10. (tie) Outback Steak House

In other categories, Nordstrom was ranked the best department store gift card. The Darden Restaurant Group had two top 10 finishes with Olive Garden joining Red Lobster. The home improvement category was the highest ranked across the board with both Lowes and Home Depot breaking into the top 10 of the 75 retailers evaluated.

The study's principle investigator, Professor Dan Horne of Providence College in Rhode Island, was a little surprised by the findings but said the high levels of consumer performance result from an interaction between the store and the gift giver's perception of the tastes of the recipient. "If a gift card giver really thinks about the kinds of store that a recipient likes, they will certainly make the experience more rewarding," Horne noted. "Gift cards tend to be effective gifts because they show thought about the type of stores that recipients like, while still promoting a sense of autonomy and choice."
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