According to statistics released by First Data, an information commerce provider, the number of gift cards sold at quick-service restaurants between January and June of this year jumped 12.4 percent over the same period of 2009. 

Overall, the number of gift cards sold by merchants in the first six months of the year increased 2.4 percent over the first six months of 2009.

Mike Hursta, vice president of gift cards for First Data, says one explanation for the big jump is the increased use of loyalty programs in the quick-serve space. 

“We’re seeing an expansion in the use of websites inviting consumers to register their prepaid cards, and also invitations for them to set up auto-reload programs, with rewards in doing so,” Hursta says. 

“I think that’s been one of the single biggest factors where we’ve seen an increase in the sale of these cards, that people are finding that there is a reward to doing so, that they can feel more connected to these brands by doing so.”

Read the full article here.

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