NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Thinking of phoning it in and just getting a gift card for the folks on your list this holiday season? You won't be alone.
According to the National Retail Federation's annual holiday survey conducted by BIGresearch, holiday shoppers spent $27.8 billion on gift cards last year alone. That's an average of $155.43 per shopper, the highest amount since 2007 and up from $145.61 in 2010.
Roughly 80% of all holiday shoppers bought gift cards last year, compared with 77.3% in 2010, and they spent more with each purchase. The average gift card was worth $43.23, a slight increase from $41.48 the year before.
Little more than 46.4% who bought gift cards went with the explanation that the cards allow the recipient to choose exactly what he or she wants. That's a more thoughtful, but perhaps less truthful, than the answer that nearly 20% chose gift cards because they were more convenient.Holiday shoppers who rebuke gift cards do so for many reasons. About 9% say they'd rather buy an item on sale than a gift card with a fixed price, while 17.4% say they're leery of suddenly subjecting their gift to fees and expiration dates that wouldn't exist if they just doled out cash. A full 26% of those of shoppers just find them impersonal no matter what they're wrapped in or bundled with. They're also only as good as the retailer or restaurant issuing them. Gift card monitoring site ScripSmart assigns zero-to-100 scores to gift cards from retailers throughout the U.S. and has no qualms about separating the solid companies from those on shaky ground. With its help, we came up with 10 gift cards that make it worth taking the easy way out: