BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Gift cards should be judged by how quickly they clear out your shopping list.
In a National Retail Federation survey this year, 22% of people who said they would abstain from buying gift cards said they would do so because the considered cards "impersonal." Sadly, that's kind of the point. The 77% of people surveyed who
purchase a gift card for someone else this year are looking for something practical, not personal, to give in a sluggish economy.
will be the most-popular choice among holiday consumers this year, according to
(AXP - Get Report)
Spending and Saving Tracker. Fifty-eight percent of people surveyed by American Express said they planned to buy them this year. Overall, 19% of consumers will devote most of their holiday budget to gift cards this season.
Not just any card will do. Sanj Raj, chief executive officer of the gift card auction site
, says his site has lost money on gift cards for
iPods. Consumers are sticking to pragmatic offerings from
, among others.
"We have moms, dads, grandparents and college kids using our site," Raj says. "The economy during the last couple of years has pushed these people to be more financially wary of what they buy."