Retailers Enjoyed Strongest Holiday Season in Four Years, According to First Data’s SpendTrend® Report

Overall sales growth for the full holiday season was 6.2% year-over-year,

accelerating from last year’s 4.7%

Retail spending grew 5.4% compared to 3.6% last year

eCommerce represented 29% of total transactions, up from 26% in 2016

NEW YORK, January 10, 2018 – Given the favorable consumer backdrop, spending grew by 6.2% this holiday season (October 28-January 1), the highest in four years, according to First Data (NYSE: FDC). The company, a global leader in commerce-enabling technology, analyzed consumer spending at more than 1.3 million merchant locations in the U.S. Throughout the holiday season, retail spending was up 5.4%, a solid increase from last year’s growth rate of 3.6%. For online sales, eCommerce accounted for 29% of all transactions, up from 26% in 2016. Additionally, this holiday season marked the highest share of spend for eCommerce transactions to date.

“A variety of factors created a ‘perfect storm’ for consumer spending this season, from low unemployment and high consumer confidence, to the soaring stock market and even good weather conditions for most of the U.S.,” said Glenn Fodor, Senior Vice President, Head of Information and Analytics Solutions at First Data. “Consumers were out in full force during the entire season, leading to impressive growth rates. Additionally, while eCommerce continues to grow rapidly, brick-and-mortar still remains a vital part of the holiday season.”


Electronics & Appliances Stand Out

While the majority of retail categories experienced solid growth this season, electronics and appliances, and building materials helped drive the overall seasonal growth, seeing the highest growth rates at 8.3% and 6.9%, respectively. The only category with a slight decline was the sporting goods, hobby and books segment, with a modest 0.6% decline.


Consumers Buying More Online but for Smaller Ticket Items

The average ticket size for retail brick-and-mortar was $68.57, compared to $103.49 for eCommerce. The dip in the average eCommerce ticket size, which was $105.73 in 2016, along with nearly 13% growth in transaction volume suggests that more people are using online channels to purchase less expensive, everyday items than in prior years.


Southwest Flourishes as Houston Rebounds

Among the 10 largest U.S. cities, Houston ranked number one in terms of overall growth, with a 10.9% increase in spend. Following the devastating hurricane season, spending patterns indicate that people in the area are rebuilding. Building materials sales growth was up 31% and furniture sales jumped 22%.

While every single region experienced growth in retail spending this holiday season, the Southwest and New England regions grew the fastest, at 5.7% and 5.5%, respectively. At the other end of the scale was the Mid-Atlantic region, which posted growth of 0.7%.

For more information on the First Data Holiday 2017 SpendTrend report, including average ticket size, spending across various retail categories, and a deeper regional analysis, please visit this website. The link also features industry-specific infographics from the SpendTrend Holiday Countdown.



All data referenced in the report is First Data’s aggregated merchant processing data and includes only card-based forms of payment. The analysis includes more than 1.3 million U.S. merchant locations that were open for business between October 28, 2017 and January 1, 2018, and have been serviced by First Data for at least 13 months. These locations include everything from “mom-and-pop” type shops to large retailers, and the report covers both brick-and-mortar and eCommerce transactions.

First Data’s SpendTrend report, a macro-economic indicator, is based on aggregate same-store sales activity across First Data’s network. Same-store sales methodology focuses on consumer spending activity and economic growth. First Data’s SpendTrend report does not indicate nor represent First Data’s financial performance.


About First Data

First Data (NYSE: FDC) is a global leader in commerce-enabling technology, serving approximately six million business locations and 4,000 financial institutions in more than 100 countries around the world. The company’s 24,000 owner-associates are dedicated to helping companies, from start-ups to the world’s largest corporations, conduct commerce every day by securing and processing more than 2,800 transactions per second and $2.2 trillion per year.


Media Contacts

Liidia Liuksila

First Data