Grads: fewer gifts, but more costly

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Fewer people will buy graduation gifts this year – but everyone who does will spend a little more.

The National Retail Federation says gift givers  will buy for an average of two graduates this year, 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 and electronics. And more people will  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, NRF president. “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, 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.