Consumers continued steady holiday spending as retail sales grew 2% over the same period last year, according to TeleCheck Services, Inc., the world’s leading check acceptance company. While a sluggish sales trend is not unusual during mid-season, it is atypical to see retailing fall so modestly. Same-store sales have dropped only four-tenths of a percent since the initial day-after-Thanksgiving surge.
The TeleCheck Retail Index is based on a year-over-year, same-store comparison of the dollar volume of checks written by consumers at more than 27,000 of TeleCheck’s 272,000 subscribing locations. Compiled on a calendar basis, TeleCheck’s index includes data from a broad cross-section of retailers nationwide. Checks account for about one-third of retail spending and remain second only to cash as the most popular method of payment. TeleCheck is a subsidiary of Denver-based First Data Corp.
“Mild weather along the East Coast and a cold snap in the Southwest helped encourage consumers in those regions particularly to continue their holiday shopping this past week, albeit at a slower pace,” said Dr. William Ford, TeleCheck’s Senior Economic Adviser. “With job losses and the unemployment rate rising, shoppers may be spending more conservatively this season, but low interest rates and falling gas prices help to ease the financial burden on American families.”
“Consumer spending has slowed slightly as we enter the third week of holiday shopping, which is characteristic for this point in the season,” said Dr. Ira Silver, TeleCheck’s Senior Retail Adviser. “Interestingly, we have not seen mid-season spending slow down as much as it has historically. Retail activity has only dropped a half percent since the Thanksgiving weekend, while at the same time last year, it fell nearly two percentage points. Of course, the last two holiday seasons saw bigger surges on Black Friday. One other note, Hanukkah came almost two weeks sooner than last year, which means gift purchases for this holiday were made early as well, helping to boost early holiday spending.”
TeleCheck reports spending per region, as follows:
· Sales in the Southeast region jumped 3% in the first 17 days of the shopping season. Louisiana’s sales were up 3.4%, Florida’s sales were up 3.2%, The Carolinas’ sales rose 3.1%, Tennessee’s sales grew 2.6% and Georgia’s sales increased 2.3%.
· In the Southwest region, sales were up 2.2%. Sales climbed 2.3%in Oklahoma, 2.2%in Texas and 2.1% in Missouri.
· The Northeast region’s sales increased 2%. Massachusetts’ sales increased 2.1% and sales in New York climbed 2%.
· Sales grew 1.9% in the Mid-Atlantic. In New Jersey, sales climbed 2.2%, Pennsylvania’s sales grew 2.1%, sales in Virginia increased 1.9% and sales in both the District of Columbia and Maryland grew 1.5%.
· Sales in the Midwest region grew 1.8%. Sales increased 2.3% in Wisconsin, 1.8% in both Illinois and Ohio, and 1.3% in Minnesota.
· In the West, sales grew 1.5%. Sales jumped 2.4% in Hawaii, 1.8% in Washington, and 1.6% in both Arizona and Colorado. California’s sales grew 1.4% and Oregon’s sales were up 0.8%.