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How to Sell Gift Cards on Shopify: Settings & Accounting

Retailer, restaurant and lifestyle services gift card and gift certificate sales soared to an all-time high just nine months ago to surpass the prior year’s benchmark. The gift card phenomenon has been gaining traction for more than 35 years and is more popular than ever due to their convenience. Per Statista, during the 10-year period from 2008 to 2018, an increase what is profit measures of profit from $91B to $160B has been reported in gift-card sales. A great fallback for hard-to-buy-for recipients, gift cards’ upward trajectory is directly linked to this modern era of online shopping. The journal entry is debiting gift card liability $ 10,000 and credit sales revenue $ 10,000. Ultimately, offering gift cards does create some extra steps in your accounting.

In this article we covered many of the important things to note when selling gift cards on Shopify. Overall, there are many benefits to your business through offering gift cards as an option. This is especially true when you streamline your accounting through integration to assist in maintenance of the gift card product on your Shopify storefront. With these strategies in place, you’ll be able to sell gift cards in a manner that is productive and compliant. There is also the risk of errors in managing and auditing the gift card program that result in discrepancies over time.

  • However, in some regions, such as in the UK, tax is actually recorded at the initial issuing of a gift card.
  • Gift cards are sold for cash, are redeemable later, and are accounted for in accordance with ASC 606.
  • Having insufficient access to key data can make the breakage calculation and overall recording of gift card transactions a headache.
  • And, based on recent trends, they will continue to gain even greater traction.
  • © 2023 GBQ Partners LLC All Rights ReservedGBQ is a tax, consulting and accounting firm operating out of Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo and Indianapolis.
  • Learn how to sell and redeem gift cards or certificates in QuickBooks Online.

Gift card purchases are recorded as deferred revenue and subsequently recognized as revenue as the gift card is redeemed in the future. Gift card purchases are generally classified as a deferred revenue liability. The cash received from the sale is paid upfront but does not qualify for revenue recognition as no goods or services have been exchanged. Businesses of all sizes give them out to customers, charities, and employees. Although accounting for gift cards is tricky, it’s worth it for most of your clients.


Thanks to the forfeiture rate, gift cards help improve your client’s bottom line. On top of that, gift cards can provide an effective tool to get new customers into a store. In fact, your clients may want to take advantage of this angle by encouraging their regular shoppers to buy gift cards for their friends and family. Gift cards are also ideal for donating to charities that may, in turn, use them as door prizes or sell them for fundraisers. It helps with your client’s public image, but again, it also helps to bring new people through the doors or to your client’s website.

  • You would not recognize breakage on the $25 as you only received cash of $20.
  • If you handle the books for any retailers or even service providers, the answer is likely yes.
  • In turn, this triggers remittance to the state once the dormancy period has been surpassed.
  • If this breakage is not dealt with, the gift cards would remain as a balance sheet liability of the business indefinitely.
  • The journal entry is debiting cash $ 200,000 and credit gift card liability $ 200,000.

Because you know a portion of all sold gift cards is likely to remain unused, you can account for those amounts immediately. If your client sells a $200 gift card, you might note $160 in current liabilities and then put the other 20% of the gift card’s value straight into the revenue column. To ensure the accuracy of the numbers, it’s beneficial for you to recalculate the breakage rate every reporting period.

It’s also a time for bustling gift card sales and various promotions, especially when it comes to restaurant entities! However, before running any promotion, companies should ensure they are ready to account for gift card sales/redemptions correctly. The business is now able to estimate the breakage revenue to be released proportionately as other gift card balances are redeemed by customers. Gift cards or gift certificates are sold by a business to customers to allow them to purchase products at some future date.

How to redeem a gift certificate

Now accounting for breakage can be a little tricky as there are a few moving parts that need to be calculated. To discuss this information in more detail, please contact Dustin Minton or other members of GBQ’s Restaurant Services team. These are just a few of the HR functions accounting firms must provide to stay competitive in the talent game. Double Entry Bookkeeping is here to provide you with free online information to help you learn and understand bookkeeping and introductory accounting. While the CARD Act was born out of a federal law, it does mandate state statutes to define if and/or when unredeemed card funds get transferred to state reserves.

Gift Card Breakage Accounting

This reduces the liability account for gift cards as the amount has been fulfilled. For restaurants, one of the standard methods to assess breakage is to perform a historical look-back and calculate the historical forfeiture rate on gift card sales. The historical forfeiture rate is calculated by taking data for the specific gift card type since inception and averaging the redemption rate over the life of the gift card program. Prior to ASC 606, gift card breakage was recorded when a company considered the chance of redemption as remote. Many companies used two years as the amount of time to have passed for a gift card’s redemption rate to be considered remote. Once the two years (or other time period as selected by company) of inactivity had passed, the unredeemed amount was recorded to breakage revenue.

Gift Card Breakage

They will receive cash immediately, they also have the obligation to provide the goods or services in the future. Additionally, just like with escheatment rules, a company cannot generate breakage revenue from promotional gift card sales and these cards should be excluded from the breakage calculation. With all rules come exceptions and gift card revenue recognition is no different. As stated above, gift cards are deferred revenue until the gift card is redeemed.

When you accept payment for a gift certificate, you accept the liability to redeem the gift certificate at some time in the future. In order to fulfill that obligation and track the transaction in QuickBooks Online, you need to set up a liability account and special items to use on a gift certificate invoice. Accounting for restaurant gift cards and certificates can get complicated quickly. There are many moving parts in gift card accounting and our team has experience handling the different types of transactions that can occur. Holiday seasons bring joy and excitement to all with colorful autumn trees, family gatherings and festive decorations.

Key takeaways on accounting for gift cards

The company set the expired to ensure that the customer will redeem the card sooner and they do not have to wait for a long period of time. However, some gift cards are not redeemed on time due to various reasons. The company has to write them off and record revenue after the gift card expires. The transaction starts when the company sells the gift card to the customer.

The journal entry to record gift card breakage revenue is to debit deferred revenue and credit breakage revenue. The company has to record revenue every time the customer redeems the gift card. On the expired date, the $ 10,000 gift card is not redeemed, so company has to record it as revenue. The journal entry is debiting gift card liability $ 10,000 and credit gift card revenue $ 10,000. The business has received the cash of 1,500 however, the goods have not yet been provided to the customers and the revenue cannot be recognized. The amount is credited to the balance sheet gift cards liability account (deferred revenue).

Therefore, the income is deferred and recorded as an obligation until the customer redeems a gift card, service is provided, and contract terms are satisfied. Various promotion options exist, and each of those options needs to be carefully analyzed to ensure proper tracking in the gift card system. Imagine the customer in the above example never returns to your client’s shop, and the remaining $20 gift card balance remains forever. Ideally, it’s a good idea for you to estimate your client’s breakage or forfeiture as you account for the gift cards. Typically, you can account for breakage by looking at trends from previous reporting periods. For instance, if your clients sold $1,000 in gift cards last year and only redeemed $800, the breakage rate is 20%.

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