WASHINGTON D.C., May 19, 2010 – There’s no question that graduates the last few years have had it rough when it comes to job hunting, but this year family and friends will soften the blow of the real world by giving graduates cash, gift cards and even electronics or apparel.

NRF’s 2010 Graduation Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGresearch, found fewer people will buy graduation gifts (31.4% vs. 32.5% in 2009) but each gift giver will spend slightly more.

According to the survey, gift givers this year will buy for an average of two graduates, spending an average of $89.95 on gifts, up slightly from $88.01 last year. Total graduation spending is expected to reach $3.9 billion.*

Practicality ruled in recent years as consumers opted to give cash, allowing graduates to purchase whatever they wanted or needed. This year, however, those giving graduation gifts will once again invest in apparel (11.4% vs. 9.9% in 2009) and electronics (10.6% vs. 9.0% in 2009).

However, cash will still be the most popular gift option (58.3% vs. 58.9% last year), and more people (31.6% vs. 29.4% last year) will also give gift cards this year.

“The appeal of tangible gifts will never fade, but cash and gift cards are often a welcome present for graduates,” said Matt Shay, President and CEO, NRF. “Many young adults, who are impacted by a lack of summer employment options or struggling to find an entry-level job out of college, realize that monetary gifts offer the flexibility to buy everything from college textbooks to furniture for their first apartment.”

The survey also found that gift-giving among young adults is far different than other age groups. Young adults are more likely than others to give apparel for graduation (24.9%), compared to 11.4 percent of all adults over 18. Young adults are also far less likely to give cash, with 49.0 percent of 18-24 year-olds giving cash compared with 58.3 percent of all adults.

“Young adults, who may be graduating themselves, want to acknowledge special events in their friends’ lives with gifts but are spending on a budget,” said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch. “Many young people buying graduation gifts will opt for greeting cards, college apparel or other inexpensive items to say congratulations.”

Chart: Popular Graduation Gifts by Year, 2010


Popular Graduation Gifts by Year, 2010

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Chart: Graduation Spending byDemographic, 2010


Graduation Spending byDemographic, 2010

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