Study: October non-cash consumer spending growth rises from September

Atlanta -- Dollar volume growth in credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT, closed-loop prepaid cards and checks at U.S. merchant locations in October 2013 was 6.8%, an uptick from the prior month’s growth of 5.3%. First Data Corporation’s First Data SpendTrend analysis shows the growth was supported by the onset of cooler temperatures, which drove sales of seasonal merchandise and early holiday advertising attracting shopper foot-traffic.

The year-over-year gas price discount continued to widen. This negatively impacted overall spending growth. Gas station dollar volume growth was -4.9% in October, the lowest growth seen since April 2013. However, strong growth in categories such as food services and drinking places and leisure, which saw growth of 7.8% and 9.9% helped offset some of that negative growth.

Retail dollar volume growth in October jumped to 5.6% compared to September’s 3.6% growth. Retail spending growth accelerated toward the end of the month as the government shutdown ended and shoppers regained confidence. All retail sub-categories saw positive year-over-year dollar volume growth.

Average ticket growth was 0.5% in October, up from September’s growth of -0.2%. The slowdown in gas station average tickets continued to offset the overall growth. Gas station average ticket growth of -7.9% marked a twelve-month low. However, retail average ticket growth jumped to 1.8% from last month’s growth of 0.8% as discounting activity by retailers eased. Retailers focused on profits in October, as this period is an opportunity to plump up profits between the back-to-school and holiday seasons; periods where retailers may be forced to cut prices to win customers.

“Consumer spending growth gained momentum in October, which should provide retailers with an optimistic outlook heading into the holiday season”, said Krish Mantripragada, senior VP, information and analytics solutions, First Data. “Retailers should expect holiday spending to be modestly stronger compared to last year barring any number of external events that could negatively impact sales such as poor weather or geopolitical events at home or abroad.”

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