Sales of online gift cards holding steady for fast casuals, QSRs

Online gift sales for fast casual and QSR brands held steady during Black Friday weekend this year, according to Paytronix, which examined anonymous aggregate gift card sales for more than 175 brands between Nov. 27 and 29.

December purchases typically account for over 50% of annual gift card sales, and the first weekend traditionally acts as a barometer of upcoming trends throughout the holiday season, according to a Paytronix press release.

The company identified the following changes in 2020 Black Friday gift card sales when compared to those for 2019:

  • The number of cards sold declined by 30.1% across all restaurant sectors.
  • Quick-service card sales declined by 3.6% on Black Friday, but the amount loaded onto those cards increased by 4.6% Over the rest of the weekend, the number of cards sold increased by 0.7%, while the overall spend decreased by 1.8%.
  • Fast casual sales were mixed, with some concepts showing big declines in card sales, while others tripled sales thanks to rich bonus offers.
  • The small gains over 2019 in quick-service sales appeared to be related to e-gift and bonus promotions, though overall e-gift sales declined.

“The more upscale the restaurant, the greater the decline we saw in gift card sales during the Black Friday shopping weekend,” Paytronix Head of Data Insights Lee Barnes said in the release. This likely means that fewer people will be giving restaurant gift cards as a gift, almost certainly because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, shoppers seem to be focusing on those cards that have bonus cash promotions, possibly as a gift to themselves.”

The trend indicated that restaurants may see a much lighter gift card season than in years past.

“Restaurants should consider alternative ways of driving guests back to make up for the loss in gift card sales,” Paytronix President and CEO Andrew Robbins said in the release. “Subscriptions represent a novel form of recurring revenue that gives guests a reason to come back for repeat visits, much like a gift card. The difference is that subscriptions present opportunity for renewal and to invite the guest to build a relationship with the brand on an ongoing basis.”

Based in Newton, Massachusetts, Paytronix is a provider of SaaS customer experience management solutions for restaurants and convenience stores.