Cooler Temperatures Drive Sales of Seasonal Merchandise

Consumers managed to hold on to their early holiday spirit last month despite the government shutdown, which forced thousands of federal employees to be involuntarily furloughed for weeks. Because by the time the partisan battle dwindled mid-month, dollar volume growth was well on its way to 6.8% - a healthy increase from 5.3% in September.

Consumers expanded their purchases from necessities to seasonal merchandise and relaxing indulgences as early holiday displays brought in anxious shoppers and cheaper year-over-year gas prices boosted discretionary budgets. This splurge caused all retail sub-categories to experience a positive year-over-year dollar volume growth. Food Services & Drink and Leisure in particular grew 7.8% and 9.9% respectively. One thing that did not grow, however, was Gas Station average ticket growth, which hit a twelve-month low of -7.9%, as gas prices continued to fall further.

As the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) takes effect, we will see if anticipated increases in healthcare expenses cause consumers to be a little less generous this gift-giving season. Tell us what you think by visiting First Data on Twitter or visit First Data’s SpendTrend and the SpendTrend infographic for more information.

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

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