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First Data Releases December 2012 SpendTrend Analysis

December Saw Slowest Consumer Spending Growth in Three Years

ATLANTA, Jan. 10, 2013 – First Data Corporation, a global leader in electronic commerce and payment processing, today released its First Data SpendTrend® analysis for the full month of December 2012 compared to December 2011. SpendTrend tracks same-store consumer spending by credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT, closed-loop prepaid cards and checks at U.S. merchant locations.

Consumers stepped back from spending in December as the fiscal cliff debate continued, lingering effects of Superstorm Sandy persisted, and the initially less aggressive retail discounting environment for most of the month dampened shopping. Dollar volume growth was 4%, the lowest monthly growth in three years and a steep slowdown from the typical range between 6% and 10%.

Retail dollar volume and transaction growth slowed significantly from November as shoppers reigned in discretionary spending in the face of financial uncertainty. Retail dollar volume growth and transaction growth both hit 12-month lows at 2.9% and 1.4%. Most retail segments saw slower dollar volume growth compared to November.

Average ticket growth slipped to -0.5% as consumers spent cautiously. Retailers were more frugal with discounting strategies earlier in the month, which negatively impacted spending. As this appeared to negatively impact sales, many retailers then reversed course and rolled out more discounts later in the month to entice consumers and put a dent in the sluggish shopping season.

“Consumer spending took a big step back as concerns related to the fiscal cliff and the initially frugal discounting strategies by retailers dampened holiday spending,” said Rikard Bandebo, vice president and economist, First Data. “Looking forward, consumer spending growth may slow as new fiscal policy is enacted in January and consumers take a small hit from the end of the payroll tax holiday. Fortunately, many consumer fundamentals are holding up well: job growth is steady, gas prices are falling, the housing market continues to turn the corner, and equity prices have also held up.”

December Dollar Volume Growth     CHANGE
Credit     +4.3%
Signature Debit     +3.4%
PIN Debit     +4.4%
Check     -8.2%
Closed-Loop Prepaid     +1.8%
Note: All transactions are same-store growth.


For more information on First Data SpendTrend, visit or call SpendTrend Customer Care at 800-430-0169. A supplementary podcast including further analysis of the SpendTrend December 2012 report is available here.

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Around the world, every second of every day, First Data makes payment transactions secure, fast and easy for merchants, financial institutions and their customers. First Data leverages its vast product portfolio and expertise to drive customer revenue and profitability. Whether the choice of payment is by debit or credit card, gift card, check or mobile phone, online or at the checkout counter, First Data takes every opportunity to go beyond the transaction.

Media Contact
Elizabeth Grice, First Data

First Data SpendTrend, a macro-economic indicator, is based on aggregate same-store sales activity in the First Data Point of Sale Network. First Data SpendTrend does not represent First Data’s financial performance.