Restaurant gift card sales were up 22% in 2021, compared to 2020, but still down 13% than 2019, according to Paytronix’s Sales Report 2022.

Sales in the family dining category shot up 106% when compared to 2020, while fine dining saw a 57% jump, demonstrating a pent-up demand for a return to on-premises dining, according to a press release on the report findings.

While the total overall number of gift cards sold in 2021 increased year over year, other trends, such as per-card spending, remained relatively consistent when compared with previous years.

Digital card sales in 2021 were the highest they’ve been in the years included in the report. Sales were driven by the purchase of e-gift cards, particularly for fine-dining restaurants. On average, load of stored value was higher on e-gift cards than physical cards for all service types, except for QSRs.

“We continue to watch a shift to e-gift and the role it plays in a complete guest experience. The rise of mobile apps, combined with loyalty programs that include such offerings as subscriptions and payments, along with rewards points, creates a much more frictionless guest experience,” Andrew Robbins, founder and CEO of Paytronix Systems Inc., said in the release. “When all the pieces come together, they bring guests back more often, help them purchase more, and increase their long-term customer lifetime value.”

Other finding include:

  • The holiday selling period accounted for slightly more than 45% of all card sales, 14% more than in 2020. Overall sales in that period were up 33.9% over 2020, but still down 6% from 2019,
  • The average dollar amount loaded onto each card across all cards has remained consistent since 2019, even amid 2020’s total overall sales losses. However, fine-dining restaurants were the exception, seeing a 22% jump in average card load over 2019.
  • In addition to the increases in family and fine dining sales, casual restaurants also proved popular, with a slightly smaller but respectable year-over-year increase of 28%. QSRs saw the smallest losses from 2019 to 2020 but grew by only 7% in 2021.
  • Corporate sales were up, while third-party sales and in-store sales made gains in 2021 but were still down 19% and 14%, respectively, from 2019. Third-party sales in 2021, while still below 2019 levels, saw the sharpest rebound from 2020.

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