Thanksgiving Shopping Strong: CU Card Processors
Although some reports of Thanksgiving Weekend sales have been lackluster, America’s favorite shopping holiday boosted debit and credit transactions for many credit unions across the country.
Stronger consumer confidence was reflected in increased credit card usage, according to numerous recent reports from major processors.
First Data’s 2014 SpendTrend Holiday Shopping Spend Analysis, which examined in-store transaction data at more than one million merchant locations from Nov. 27 to Cyber Monday on Dec. 1, uncovered year-over-year retail dollar volume growth of 5.3% and retail transaction growth of 5%, compared to last year.
“Despite only modest growth from last year, there were some encouraging signs in the data, including a shift from debit to credit card usage that indicates strong consumer confidence,” Krish Mantripragada, senior VP of information and analytics solutions for Atlanta-based First Data, said in a press release announcing the report. “The boost in credit spending may indicate that consumers are feeling more confident about their current financial situation, likely driven by the improvement in the labor market and reduction in gasoline prices.”
This year’s small increase was a slight dip from last year’s retail dollar volume growth of 7.4% and retail transaction growth of 6%, First Data said.
Retailers that opened early on Thanksgiving succeeded in getting shoppers to the store earlier, but the sales tactic did not make a significant impact as Thanksgiving Day, comparatively, was the lowest performing of all five days, First Data said.
On the other hand, Thanksgiving Day saw the largest increase in debit card spending, with an increase of 14% over 2013 for credit unions using CO-OP Financial Services for transaction processing, according to a press release issued by CO-OP, Saylent and The Members Group.
The Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.-based CO-OP, which recently earned Apple Pay processor status, noted that member spending jumped almost 13% for credit transactions and 7% for debit, compared to last year, at 20 different merchant types during the five-day period.
The year-over-year comparison was performed through an advanced analytics solution, CO-OP Revelation, powered by Saylent, and was conducted by Saylent’s FInsights360 consulting team, the companies said.
“This year CO-OP and Saylent have tracked debit card spending during four periods – Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, August back-to-school shopping and now Thanksgiving – and we have found increases in each case,” CO-OP President/CEO Stan Hollen said. “As with back-to-school shopping, the increased number of transactions was key to the increase in total dollars spent.”
Comparing 2013 to 2014, credit union members increased their debit card usage and spend most at cosmetic stores, with a close to 108% increase in transactions and a 98% increase in spending, according to the report.
“Despite reports that shopping was down over this time period compared to last year, we found that debit card spending in fact increased across members of the credit unions we analyzed,” Saylent President/CEO Tyson Nargassans said. “This continues the trend we’ve seen throughout each of the time periods we examined this year, with credit union members increasing their debit card usage and spend compared to 2013.”
For credit unions using CO-OP Financial Services for transaction processing, the day with the largest increase in debit card spending, compared to last year, wasn’t Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but rather Thanksgiving Day, with an increase of 14%,
On the other hand, Black Friday was the biggest day for credit card spending, accounting for 42% of all credit card transactions, for institutions that partner with The Members Group, according to the Des Moines, Iowa-based payments processing CUSO
On average, the transacting cardholder also spent more on Black Friday ($147.63) compared to Cyber Monday ($131.45) and Thanksgiving ($111.54), TMG said.
Analysis noted a 12.97% boost in credit spending for users who carry credit cards issued by TMG’s clients, the company said.
TMG’s analysts attribute the increase to healthy growth in the credit card portfolios of TMG’s clients and the fact cardholders used their credit cards on average 1.35% more this year as compared to last year, the company said.
The analysis was courtesy of the card processor’s proprietary analysis tool, ClearTrend, which can provide similar data on a per-FI basis for TMG processing clients, the company said.
“Our issuing partners want to understand transaction volume trends, yet they are also interested in data that demonstrates an evolution in the way consumers are paying,” TMG CEO Shazia Manus said. “Are they increasingly turning to digital channels, and when they are, which platforms are providing the best experience? These are just a few of the critical data points our credit union and community-based financial institution clients rely on as they develop new payment strategies for the future.”
TMG analysis also noted that credit card shopping from online and mobile devices increased 24.7% year-over-year, with Amazon leading all merchants in credit card spending, the company said.