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Merchant gift card redemptions increased 7% during the week ended Dec. 6 compared with the same period last year, according to a report from First Data Corp. The Atlanta-based processor based the report on aggregate transaction data from the company's gift card-processing business. First Data suggests the numbers indicate consumers already are redeeming gift cards they received as part of incentive shopping deals. The company did not release specific numbers. Overall, the total dollar value of gift cards activated during the week grew 4.4%, while the number of gift cards sold increased 2.3% compared with same period last year. The average gift card amount increased to $32.10 compared with $31.48 last year. Restaurant gift cards made up a larger percentage of all cards activated during the week compared with a year ago, but First Data did not release specific numbers.

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