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MasterCard Survey: With Bargain Hunting on the Rise, ‘Tis the Season of the Smart Shopper


Consumers Plan to Use a Variety of Cost-Saving Strategies and Spend Most on Practical Gifts; Majorities Like Giving and Receiving Prepaid Gift Cards

Nearly one third of Americans (29%) plan to seek out bargains more this year than they did last year when shopping for the holidays, according to a new survey released today by MasterCard Worldwide. Findings show that Americans will shop smarter this year by using a variety of cost-saving strategies and shifting spend towards practical gifts, such as gift certificates or gift cards.

The most popular way Americans plan to seek out bargains this year is by shopping at merchants offering special savings and discounts, such as free shipping or rebates (42% of all holiday shoppers). Additionally, over one quarter of holiday shoppers (28%) say they plan to take advantage of Black Friday to seek out holiday deals.

Other smart and practical shopping strategies consumers plan to take this year include:

* Shopping online (34%),
* Shopping in store for early bird specials (30%),
* Waiting for last minute deals (28%),
* Purchase gift certificates or gift cards for holiday gifts (53%),
* Spend the most on gift certificates or gift cards (26%), compared to other gift categories.

In addition, the survey suggested that prepaid gift cards, which can be used in any retail environment payment cards are accepted, will be popular gifts this holiday season. Fifty-seven percent of Americans like the idea of giving prepaid gift cards to friends and family this holiday season, while 61 percent like the idea of receiving them.

“With bargain hunting on the rise and Americans looking at a variety of cost-cutting and practical giving strategies, the 2008 holiday shopping season is all about the smart shopper,” said Rob Sheets, Group Head, U.S. Commerce Development, MasterCard Worldwide. “MasterCard has tools to help shoppers make sure every dollar counts, such as the MasterCard Savings™ program for debit and prepaid cardholders, or our wide variety of prepaid gift cards, which continue to be popular gifts to both give and receive during the holidays.”

Young Adults Most Likely to Bargain Hunt on Black Friday
According to the MasterCard survey, younger adults are the most willing to wake up early and face the crowds to shop on the day after Thanksgiving (48%), compared to 23 percent of those aged 35-54 and 15 percent of those aged 55 and over. In fact, Black Friday is the most popular way for younger adults (those under age 35) to save on holiday shopping expenses, with shopping online (42%) being their next popular strategy.

For adults aged 35 and older, buying from merchants offering special savings and discounts, such as free shipping or rebates, is the most popular strategy to find gift-giving savings (43% for age 35-54 and age 55+). More than any other demographic, Americans aged 35-54 say they will seek out in-store “early bird” specials before 10:00 a.m. (32%) and wait for last minute deals (32%) in order to take advantage of savings this holiday season.

To make it easier for holiday shoppers to find merchant discounts that are most meaningful to them, MasterCard offers the MasterCard Savings™ program for debit and prepaid MasterCard cardholders. Launched earlier this year, the program provides direct access to hundreds of significant discounts and special offers from thousands of merchants across the country. Debit and prepaid MasterCard cardholders can quickly enroll for free at

Prepaid Gift Cards a Practical Gift Americans Enjoy Giving and Receiving
A majority of holiday shoppers (53%) say they plan to buy gift certificates or gift cards this holiday season. In fact, (26%) say they plan to spend the most in this category compared to other popular gift categories, such as clothing and accessories (24%) and toys, games or sporting goods (22%).

When asked about prepaid gift cards in particular, Americans like giving them almost as much as they like receiving them during the holidays.

* Of the Americans who like the idea of giving prepaid gift cards (57%), 52 percent cite their flexibility, since recipients can use them to buy whatever gift they want. Twenty-two percent say that they save them time shopping and having to think about what to buy people, while 16 percent say they most like giving them because they are convenient, in that they can buy them at a variety of locations.
* Of those who like the idea of receiving prepaid gift cards (61%), 40 percent say that it is because they enable them to buy whatever gift they want. Twenty-three percent say that they like receiving prepaid gift cards because of the convenience, in that they can use them at a variety of locations and online, and 1 in 5 (20%) say that they most like receiving them because it makes shopping easier on their friends and family.

Said Sheets, “As consumers take a more practical approach to gift giving this year, we expect that prepaid gift cards will continue to grow in popularity. Consumers like them because they’re convenient to purchase and redeem and offer great flexibility for recipients to buy what they most want.”

For holiday shoppers interested in purchasing a prepaid MasterCard® gift card this holiday season, there are hundreds of cards to choose from, many of which can be customized with unique designs and personal messages. Prepaid MasterCard gift cards can be purchased at financial institutions and retail locations, as well as by phone or via the Internet. Consumers can visit to find the one that is right for them.


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