New data from PSCU suggested that the urge to stock up on groceries and other supplies is beginning to wane.
In new research, the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based CUSO said that among its owner credit union members, credit card spending at grocery stores and supermarkets grew 24.9% year-over-year for the week of March 23, 2020, compared to the week of March 25, 2019, and debit card spending grew 10%. However, those growth rates were much lower than what PSCU saw in the preceding two weeks of March, “indicating that consumers were easing back from their ‘stock-up’ purchases conducted during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic,” it noted.
PSCU also said growth rates in credit and debit card spending at drug stores and pharmacies were flattening. During the week of March 23, 2020, credit card spending in the sector grew by just 0.7%, and debit card spending actually fell 7.5%. In contrast, just a week before that, year-over-year spending at drug stores and pharmacies was up 33% for credit cards and 27.4% for debit cards.
Overall credit card spending was down 29.9% for the week of March 23, 2020, compared to the week of March 25, 2019. Debit card spending was down 18.1%, PSCU found.
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“As anticipated, we began to more clearly see the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on consumer spending this week,” PSCU Advisors Plus SVP Glynn Frechette said. “As the situation evolves and more nonessential retail stores are closed, along with stay-at-home orders being put in place throughout the country, we expect continued downward pressure on consumer spend. We will continue to keep our credit unions apprised of these trends to help guide their decision-making and best serve their members in these challenging times.”
An even stronger trend has played out for gas stations, according to the data. Credit card spending was down 52.2% and debit card spending dropped 40.1% for the week of March 23, 2020, compared to the week of March 25, 2019. Lower gas prices and the giant increase in working from home likely drove the declines, PSCU noted.
Purchases of consumer goods also slumped during the week of March 23 compared to the same week of 2019, falling 18.6% for credit cards and 17.7% for debit cards.