Gift cards, which are often perceived as the ‘lazy present’, have topped the wish list for this Christmas by an overwhelming 84% of Australians, according to new Afterpay research.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is forecasting Australians will spend nearly $59 billion in the pre-Christmas sales period, with Afterpay’s research revealing more than half (58%) will be doing their gift shopping in November. However, one-third (33%) are still unsure of what to buy.

Afterpay’s Festive Forecast has found gift cards to be the most sought-after gift, ahead of personalised or handmade items (72%), sustainable items (67%), fashion or clothes (66%) and event tickets (62%).

Psychologist and social commentator, Sabina Read shared her view on why Australians are wanting gift cards over physical gifts this Christmas.

“With COVID-19 controlling much of our lives over the last 20 months, many of us are looking for ways to re-establish control this Christmas,” she said.

“While there is still a degree of uncertainty around how the future will look, gift cards are a flexible option to show someone you care, whilst also giving them the freedom to decide how and when they can treat themselves.”

Afterpay’s research has also shown Gen Z are the most excited about Christmas (68%) and are set to be the biggest spenders this festive season, with 34% planning on spending more than last year, and more than half (57%) planning on treating themselves with a gift.

Almost two in five (38%) say spending money on gifts is the most stressful part of Christmas, while half (49%) usually go over budget when shopping for Christmas gifts.

Afterpay executive vice president and country manager, Katrina Konstas said, “We know that Christmas can put a strain on people’s finances and cause additional stress. Afterpay research has found 60% of young shoppers are keen to avoid a large one-off spend, and one-quarter (25%) are looking for services to help them budget.

“Afterpay can take the stress out of Christmas shopping by offering customers the ability to pay off purchases in four, fortnightly installments, without incurring interest, ever.”