American shoppers should spend an average of $1,007.24 during the holidays this year, representing 4.1% growth from last year, according to the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. The study also revealed that gift cards topped consumers' wish lists for the 12th year in a row.

Chart showing gifts consumers would like to receive

Data source: NRF. Chart by author.

The popularity of gift cards is good news for Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Apple, Walmart (NYSE:WMT), Starbucks, and Target (NYSE:TGT). They sold the five most popular gift cards (by quantity) in the U.S., Canada, U.K., and Europe last year, according to NGC.

NGC also noted that big box retailers -- which include Amazon, Walmart, and Target -- led the market last year, accounting for 26.8% of all gift card sales. Open loop (prepaid debit and gift) cards ranked second with a 21.8% share, followed by entertainment cards at 17.4%.

Gift cards remain popular because they let the recipient choose the gift. Digital gift cards are also becoming more popular, but physical cards still accounted for three-quarters of all gift card sales last year, according to NGC.

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