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Perspective: Retail Spending in August Boosted by Back-to-School

Every summer, retailers across the country stock up on crayons and clothes in anticipation of Back-to-School, one of the biggest shopping seasons of the year. But this time around, the deals were even sweeter thanks to temperate weather, sales tax holidays and a little extra discretionary income. Although overall dollar volume growth dipped slightly from 7.7 percent in July to 7.3 percent in August, retail spending jumped to 5.5% versus last month’s growth of 4.4%.

Since August is also the last month of summer, hotel and travel merchants in particular grew from 6.9 to 7.8% with vacation plans picking up. And no vacation would be complete without plenty of leisure, which came in at 7.6%. These trips to theme parks and recreational activities were notably paid for with credit, thereby extending consumers’ preference for plastic to eight consecutive months.

And it seems that they can afford to, since brighter employment prospects, rising wealth and a strong housing market have made it easier to put less emphasis on debit accounts. However, considering current geopolitical tensions, will consumer confidence remain? Tweet us your thoughts @SpendTrend.

Rishi Chhabra is vice president of information and analytics solutions at First Data.

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