Instead of storming retail stores for toys, electronics and clothes on Black Friday this year, some U.S. shoppers are buying “experiential” gifts for the people on their list – gift cards to great restaurants, weekend vacations, tickets to concerts and ball games and more.
Almost two out of every three Americans will buy a restaurant gift card for someone on their shopping list this year, according to the Workplace Foodservice Consumer Survey.
Shoppers can use a service like Treatful.com this year to gift a dinner at a nice local restaurant in a number of cities across the U.S. With more than 250 restaurants in its database, Treatful allows gift givers to find an appropriate restaurant and delivers gift cards online.
"Whether you need a last-minute birthday gift, want to take care of your holiday shopping or just show your appreciation for a colleague, Treatful lets you send a gift with just an email address and with no service fees to the customer," co-founder Brent Looney said in a statement.
Of course, shoppers can also search for restaurants through general review sites like Yelp.com or through guides like Zagat’s. Many restaurants offer gift cards or packages, particularly during the holiday season.
Gift givers looking to give someone a vacation or retreat can turn to a number of trip planning sites like Travelocity.com for deals this season.
Travelocity will have deals starting at 12:01 a.m. on Black Friday for trips to relaxing locations. They’ll offer up to 50 percent off hotels in Hawaii, free nights at resorts in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos, and up to 40 percent off airfare to major cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.
Travel experts agree booking flights – for a gift or for personal use – on Black Friday will often result in savings, but there are concerns to be minded.
Be aware of booking fees, as deals can turn from sweet to sour at the click of a checkout button. And it’s best to keep an eye on social media and various travel sites to ensure that you’re purchasing the best deal. Yapta.com allows users to compare booking agencies in an easy-to-track format to ensure the lowest price.
Tickets to a sports game, concert or event are fail-proof gifts. StubHub.com offers gift certificates if you’re not sure what the person on your list will like most. The site provides a network for people outside the venue who can’t attend the event to sell tickets at a discounted rate.
Ticketmaster often charges a ton at checkout, but they’ll offer tickets under $25 to a number of events and up to 50 percent off select events.