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2020 it turns out, were an excellent year for gift cards in the Nordics – and the trend continues!

Feature for The Gift Club

August 2nd, 2021

Retrospectively looking back at 2020, it does not come as a big surprise that the gift card industry, in general, increased its sales. Nor does it seem surprising that this mainly took place during the Holiday season.

2020 emphasized how showing consideration to friends, family, and loved ones by sending them a gift card seemed to be a very convenient “social distancing”-way of saying “I miss you”, “I’m thinking of you”, or “I cannot wait to give you a hug once we’re out of lockdown”.

Not least did we see companies at the end of the year giving away gift cards in compensation for the Christmas parties they could not throw. Along the same lines, we also saw employers rewarding their employees for keeping their heads high while participating in yet another online meeting.

The act of gift-giving generally did quite well last year. However, to state how 2020 was not solely just a bed of roses for gift cards, it probably is not shocking how gift cards for travelling, getaways, and restaurant visits significantly decreased. Likewise, B2B sales took a hit just when Covid kicked in.

With that said, let’s take a step back and look into what seems to have made a positive difference for the overall growth of the gift card business.

A golden age for take-away and DIY

Yes, the experience industry did not face its prime period in 2020, reflected in the lower demand for gift cards within this category.

But as mentioned, other types of gift cards did well (not to say how B2B sales made a huge comeback when Christmas hit).

The overall picture shows that gift cards for electronics, clothing, and home & garden did quite well. But the winner category – which nearly became a synonym for e-commerce in 2020 – was… Take-away! The selling of gift cards for easy (and often greasy) dinner skyrocketed. And did we not all deserve those extra pizzas last year anyway?

So how are things going in 2021, then?

It shows that gift cards still seem to do quite well in Scandinavia. It is hard to say if this is a surprise. But we would most likely not have frowned if people told us that gift card sales would decrease alongside seeing COVID-restrictions phasing out.

In other words, gift cards are still popular, and revenues keep increasing.

Perhaps a reason is that more people got introduced to the gift card world, firstly driven by need, subsequently by appreciating the convenience.

We also know that gift card sales have had a helping hand in terms of benefitting from financial tax measures made by the Scandinavian governments. A shout out to the politicians in the Nordic countries

The before-mentioned help came from the Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian governments and was mercifully given to the gifting and experience industries in the three countries.

Due to the pandemic circumstances, these governments decided to accommodate the economic losses, which were especially suffered by numerous hotels, bars, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and what not during Corona.

In Denmark, the government enabled employers to provide tax-free experience gift cards for their employees for up to 1200 Danish kroner (approx. 190$/140£/160€) in 2021.

As for Sweden and Norway, the governments went even further by enabling employers to provide tax-free gifts (not only limited to experiences) for their employees for up to respectively 2000 Swedish kroner (approx. 230$/170£/195€) and 5000 Norwegian kroner (a year) (approx. 570$/420£/490€) in 2021.

On behalf of the experience industry (and not least on behalf of gift card businesses), we just want to shout out to the Scandinavian politicians for setting up these arrangements – you sure have (re-)made way for many industries, including ours.

Anyway, here we are after an eventful 2020 and after nine eventful months of 2021. At GoGift, all 100+ employees are more than ready to approach Q4 of 2021 with the excitement of serving our clients with innovative and personal gifting solutions.

As always, we do expect a very busy Christmas period, and it will be interesting to see how this year turns out compared to last year.

No doubt that people being able to see their loved ones (physically) again and employers being able to spend lots of money throwing their employees a great Christmas party could have a say in how this year’s overall Christmas gifting turns out.

…But if you ask us, a gift card could easily go along with either a nice meetup with your friends, with a cosy family gathering or with an excellent company party.


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