Cash still king of graduation gifts

May 13, 2008


On the street

What is an appropriate amount to spend on a graduation gift?

An appropriate amount would be $50, but being a broke college student myself, I would go with $20 plus drinks for the night.

More responses

Although spending will be down for gifts this graduation season, cash will continue to be king amid renditions of "Pomp and Circumstance," according to a new survey.

The National Retail Federation reports that $4.473 billion will be spent on graduation gifts this season, down 2.9 percent from a year earlier.

But with more than half of gift-givers opting to provide cash, and nearly a third of givers - 32.2 percent - intending to send gift cards, many grads will be heading into the "real world" or prepping for their next phases of education with the traditional gifts of a little more green to work with.

"Graduation is a time for celebration, and there is no better way to wish a graduate luck in the next chapter of their life than by giving them a leg up financially," said Tracy Mullin, the federation's president and chief executive officer.

The numbers come from a survey of 8,347 consumers conducted April 29 through last Wednesday.

The survey carries a margin of error of 1 percentage point.

On average, consumers plan to spend $99.79 on graduation gifts this year, down 12 cents from a year ago, according to the survey.

The rate of giving also is slowing, the survey found.

This year, 32.4 percent of Americans plan to purchase at least one gift for graduation, down from the 33.7 percent rate anticipated a year ago, the survey said. Buyers also anticipate buying an average of 1.91 gifts, down from the 1.96 average a year earlier.

"Consumers are definitely being a little more cautious," said Scott Krugman, a federation spokesman. "Clearly, there's been more of a drain on discretionary spending - with gas prices, and the housing market the way it is. There's a variety of reasons we're seeing consumers being more careful with their purse strings."

But the news isn't all bad, at least not for grads themselves: The amount expected to be spent on each recipient looks to be $52.12 this season, up by 2.1 percent from $51.05 last year, the survey said.


LawTunes 9 years, 11 months ago

You're probably right on the gift card and cash points, but we are still seeing a strong volume of orders of specific gift items, such as for pre-law and law school graduation gifts, of LawTunes' ( "The LawTunes Jury Boxed Set" -- four CDs of humorous original law-related rock-and-roll songs composed and produced by a practicing attorney, incorporating a broad spectrum of popular/classic rock-and-roll styles, taking on the law, lawyers, and legal practice in a hilarious, but positive, way. It may be that, in the absence of such gifts so well matched to specific career paths or courses of study, that gift cards and cash are the best one can do. Thanks for the info.

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