The gift of free coffee can go a long way, and it certainly adds up.
According to Starbucks estimates released Tuesday, Dec. 23 will be the busiest day for gift card purchases, as holiday shoppers scramble to find the final items on their lists for friends, family and co-workers.
The Seattle-based coffee giant said that nearly $3 billion dollars will be loaded onto Starbucks cards from October to December. In 2020, more than 46 million Starbucks cards, both physical and digital, were purchased in the U.S. and Canada during the holiday season.
Starbucks debuted reloadable gift cards back in November of 2001, which quickly became a holiday go-to, selling nearly 200,000 in the first week alone.
The company first sold non-reloadable cards in 1994, as an alternative to paper gift certificates. According to Starbucks, the cards "helped spread the word about Starbucks" when it only had a slim 4,700 locations at the turn of the new millennium.
Today, there are more than 33,000 Starbucks locations.
“For more than 20 years, Starbucks Cards have made the perfect gift for loved ones during the holiday season and we’re on track for another record performance of Starbucks Card sales," according to Starbucks executive Brady Brewer.
In general, gift cards are a go-to for holiday shoppers, according to the National Retail Federation. Around 46% of shoppers planning to buy one this holiday season, only second to plans to buy clothing, NRF data found.
Along with a holiday menu, Starbucks unveiled seasonal designs for its gift cards. Over the past 20 years, more than 1,500 designs have debuted on Starbucks' gift cards, which are available in both physical and digital formats that can be loaded with $5 to $100.
Those includes limited-edition designs like the Taylor Swift-inspired Starbucks e-Gift that debuted back in November, which included the lyrics "Autumn Leaves Falling Down" of her hit song "All Too Well."
When customers register the gift card with the Starbucks Rewards loyalty program and make a purchase, they can earn Stars to redeem for a free beverage, food, among other items. The loyalty program segment is a booming source of revenue for the coffee giant, which got a boost during COVID-19 as consumers opted for touch-less interaction.
In the fourth-quarter, Starbucks rewards loyalty program 90-day active members jumped to 24.8 million in the fourth quarter, up 28 percent compared to a year ago.
Brooke DiPalma is a producer and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma or email her at [email protected]
Dani Romero is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @daniromerotv
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