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Over half of Brits will give ‘virtual’ gifts this Christmas

01 December 2014

53% of people will give vouchers, gift cards, subscriptions, memberships or downloads as Christmas presents.

A new survey looking into the nation’s Christmas shopping baskets reveals that over half of Brits are planning to give ‘virtual’ gifts including gift cards and vouchers for high street retailers, book or garden vouchers and magazine subscriptions.

The survey, commissioned by, also revealed that while 37% of those intending to give a ‘virtual’ present do so because they consider them to be more thoughtful than just giving cash, less than a third (32%) did so because they thought they were a truly great gift, and 30% said they opt for ‘virtual’ presents just to make their Christmas shopping easier.

Happily, 54% of those surveyed who had received a ‘virtual’ gift considered it a good Christmas present, with over a third (34%) saying that it was exactly what they wanted. Only one in ten thought ‘virtual’ presents were impersonal.

Retailer gift cards and vouchers top the list of ‘virtual’ gifts people intend to give this Christmas, followed by book vouchers, restaurants and hotel vouchers and magazine or newspaper subscriptions:

Virtual gift


Retailer gift cards or vouchers e.g. Marks & Spencer, HMV, WHSmiths, Amazon


Book voucher


Restaurant or hotel voucher


Subscription e.g. magazine, newspaper or comic (including online membership)


Garden voucher


Music download or streaming


Cinema gift card, voucher or membership


Experience day e.g. driving day, spa day, hot air balloon flight


Charity gift e.g. water scheme or goat


Membership to theatre, museum, art gallery, etc.


Mobile phone top-up


Film downloads or streaming


Claire Peate, customer insight manager at commented: “Gift cards, vouchers and other ‘virtual’ gifts make convenient Christmas gifts - they can be particularly useful if you don’t know what to buy, but don’t want to give family or friends the wrong thing. But, while some gift cards and vouchers are open-ended, many have a time limit on when they can be redeemed – for some this can be as short as six to 12 months – and the valid period often starts from the date the gift was purchased, not when it was given. So, if you’re planning to give a ‘virtual’ present this Christmas, make sure you highlight the expiry date to the recipient to make sure they benefit from your gift.”


Notes to editors:

On 18 November 2014 an online survey was conducted among 2,004 randomly selected British adults age 18+ who are also Springboard United Kingdom Community members. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 2.2%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current data on age, gender, region, and education from the most recent census data, to ensure the sample is representative of the entire adult population of the UK. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.