Despite Late Spring, Consumer Card Spending Bounced Back in March

ATLANTA,  April 9, 2013 – First Data Corporation, a global leader in electronic commerce and payment processing, today released its First Data SpendTrend® analysis for March 1-29, 2013 compared to March 2-30, 2012. SpendTrend tracks same-store consumer spending by credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT, closed-loop prepaid cards and checks at U.S. merchant locations.

Year-over-year dollar volume growth increased 6.0% in March, up from February’s 4.6% growth, as the earlier Easter holiday and lower gas prices provided an extra boost to spending during the month. In addition, tax refunds that were delayed earlier in the year have caught up and may have spurred consumer spending in March. March 2013 performance is particularly robust given a tough comparable to March 2012, when dollar volume growth rose 8.7% due to abnormally mild weather last year.

Retail dollar volume growth was 3.9% year-over-year in March, a healthy increase from February’s 2.5% growth, as consumers took advantage of spring promotions and winter clearance markdowns and Easter- and Passover–related spending. General merchandise stores (including value retail) saw dollar volume growth of 5.0% in March, a six-month high. Conversely, dollar volume growth at building material, garden equipment and supply dealers slowed to 3.1% in March, very likely impacted by the much colder and snowier weather across much of the country compared with the same period last year.

Year-over-year average ticket growth was 1.8% in March, the highest growth since October 2011. Average ticket growth at Retail merchants grew 3.4%. Sparked by tax refunds, consumers showed an increased propensity to spend on higher-priced items such as electronics and appliances, and furniture and home furnishings.

“Consumer spending growth bounced back in March despite increased payroll taxes and other headwinds facing consumers as well as a very challenging comparable with the growth rates from Q1 last year,” said Rikard Bandebo, vice president and economist, First Data. “The earlier Easter holiday, reduced personal savings and the delay in tax refunds from February appeared to provide a catalyst for the consumer spending growth this March. Looking forward, sustained consumer-spending growth remains in the balance as consumers are reducing their savings and are shifting more spending onto credit cards.”

March Dollar Volume Growth CHANGE
Credit +8.1%
Signature Debit +5.1%
PIN Debit +3.3%
Check -6.0%
Closed-Loop Prepaid +10.8%

Note: All transactions are same-store growth.

For more information on First Data SpendTrend, visit www.spendtrend.com or call SpendTrend Customer Care at 800-430-0169. A supplementary podcast including further analysis of the SpendTrend March 2013 report is available here.

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Media Contact
Elizabeth Grice, First Data
303-967-8526
elizabeth.grice@firstdata.com

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.