With the holiday season approaching fast, selling gift cards is an excellent way to generate incremental revenue—because gift card sales are about to skyrocket.

The average person spends more than $172 on gift cards when they do their holiday shopping, and total spending reaches as high as $31 billion. Statistics from past years have shown that the median consumer will buy more than 2 gift cards during the holiday season.

The data shows that every single business should have gift cards. But here are the 3 reasons that’s especially true for restaurants:

1. 93% of US consumers buy or receive a gift card every year. This simple fact has profound implications—if you don’t offer gift cards, people will simply get a gift card to another business.

Gift cards become a necessity during the holiday season. According to NRF’s survey, the two major reasons why consumers chose gift cards were that “gift cards allow the recipient to select their own gift” and “gift cards are easier and faster to buy than traditional gifts.” Those criteria are specific to gift cards, and it’s clear that people who are looking for gift cards will have no other substitute in mind. If you don’t offer them gift cards, they’ll look elsewhere.

2. During the holiday season, restaurant gift cards are the #1 selling type of gift card. It’s clear why gift cards are so popular during the busy holiday shopping season: They make a great last minute gift, but they’re still a personalized recommendation. But restaurants, especially, fit the criteria noted by the NRF: they allow freedom of choice combined with the delight of treating oneself. More than 1 in 3 consumers planned to buy a restaurant gift card as a gift this holiday season.

3. On average, gift card holders spend 20% more than their balance and go to the store multiple times. And this makes a big difference for restaurants. When people like a restaurant, they’re very likely to come back. National Restaurant Association research in the past has shown that repeat customers make up as much as 71% of sales at quick-service restaurants, and 51% at fine-dining. That’s a huge proportion of sales—and a gift card is a great way to allow one of your patrons to make a suggestion to a friend.

This year, the NRF expects an increase in sales of 4 percent during the holiday season. There’s still time to get a gift card program up and running, but it’s important that restaurants get started now before the Black Friday rush begins.

​​3 Stats That Prove Restaurants Need Gift Cards