Atlanta -- First Data Corp., in its SpendTrend analysis for December, reported that dollar volume grew 6.1%, which marked a significant spike compared to November’s growth of 4.4% as holiday shoppers were out in full force with no time to procrastinate due to the shortened holiday shopping season.
SpendTrend tracks same-store point-of-sale data by credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT, closed-loop prepaid cards and checks from nearly four million U.S. merchant locations serviced by First Data.
The growth was supported by extended store hours, pre-Christmas and post-Christmas, and the promotional environment that lured in last-minute, bargain-seeking shoppers. The wide year-over-year gas price discount that was seen for the past few months tightened and also helped to propel the growth higher. Gas Station dollar volume growth was 3.4%, the highest growth in five months; however, adverse weather across the Midwest and Northeast hindered shopper foot traffic and subdued the overall growth.
Retail spending growth of 3.1% jumped from last month’s growth of 1.3%. With a shortened holiday shopping timeline punctuated by winter storms, shoppers felt the pressure and increasingly stepped up retail spending as the month progressed. The healthy growth was largely supported by stronger sequential spending growth in retail categories such as Building Material & Supply Dealers, Health & Personal Care Stores and General Merchandise Stores, which saw growth of 11.1%, 4.9% and 3.6%.
Average ticket growth of 0.8% improved considerably compared to November’s growth of -0.3% as shoppers loosened their purse strings and showed an increased propensity to spend more for holiday gifts. Retail average tickets also marked a comeback with growth of 1.2% compared to 0.6% last month. Despite the healthy improvements in overall average tickets and retail average tickets, the growth slowed toward the end of the month as merchants integrated deeper discounts to attract last minute shoppers and to clear excess inventory.
“Spending growth was strong in December as shoppers were more confident and enjoyed stronger income growth compared to 2012, which encouraged consumers to open up their wallets this holiday season,” said Krish Mantripragada, senior VP, Information and Analytics Solutions, First Data. “More so, holiday shoppers were out in full force and did not have time to procrastinate due to the shortened holiday window this year. Merchants also made it easier for the consumer to shop this holiday season by providing price-matching, free shipping guarantees and expanded store hours throughout December.”
Meanwhile, spending growth on credit cards hit a four-month high in December as consumers increasingly turned to credit to fund discretionary holiday purchases.