Want to give gift cards - read this first

Four out of five shoppers this season will purchase a gift card. And why not? Gift cards topped the wish list for the seventh year in a row of those polled by the National Retail Federation. Some things you might not know:

$163.16 - Average amount consumers will spend on gift cards this holiday season. That’s up 4 percent from last year’s $156.86. Total spending is expected to reach $29.8 billion.

40% - Percentage of gift cards that will come from department stores, the No. 1 choice. Restaurants were the second choice at 34 percent.

12% - Percentage of shoppers that will buy gift cards for gas. Even though gas prices are hovering near $3 a gallon, more shoppers than ever will give the gift of gas.

25% - Percentage of shoppers who feel that gift cards are too impersonal. Of the people who do buy gift cards, 43 percent say that letting the recipient choose a gift is the biggest influence on their decision.

SOURCES: National Retail Federation