Thursday, October 8, 2020

Consumers are Dining Out More

By Jim DuPlessis | October 06, 2020 at 08:00 AM

Consumer spending by credit and debit card remained steady in the last week of September, with debit spending at restaurants nearing pre-pandemic levels, according to a PSCU report released Monday.

The St. Petersburg, Fla.-based payments CUSO’s Transaction Trends Update showed debit card spending was 17.3% greater in the week ending Sept. 27 than in the week ending Sept. 29, 2019. However, it fell below the four-week average gain of 18.5%.

Credit card spending grew for the fourth week in a row, up 3.4% for Week 39, but it was also below the four-week average growth rate of 4.3%.

“Week 39 saw another strong week of performance in both debit and credit purchase volume, fueled by strong growth in retail,” Glynn Frechette, SVP for Advisors Plus at PSCU, said.

The PSCU reports are on a same-store basis, meaning a member credit union’s results were included only if it also had results for the prior period.

The strongest gains in credit card spending were in the Plains (+6.0%) and the Southeast (+5.9%) for Week 39, while credit card spending fell in Hawaii (-4.9%) and the New England region (-1.8%).

For debit cards, the biggest gains were in the Great Lakes (+21.1%) and the Mideast (+18.6%), while the weakest gains were in the Far West (+10.4%) and Hawaii (+7.7%).

Consumers made 40.9% of their credit card transactions without a card present, and 28% via debit.

“Contactless transactions continued to surge, up two percentage points over the past six weeks on debit, representing stronger week-to-week growth than we have historically seen,” Frechette said.

At restaurants, “we saw that card-not-present activity continues to grow exponentially year over year,” he said. “Both of these trends are good indicators of the continued behavioral changes and adaptation of both consumers and businesses in a post-pandemic environment.”

About 95% of restaurant spending occurs at restaurants and other eating places, and at fast-food stores. The other categories are catering and drinking places.

For debit, restaurant purchases have largely worked their way back to near or above 2019 levels. Fast food purchases rose 10.2% in Week 39, in line with the four-week average gain of 10.8%. Eating places rose 5.3%, up slightly from the four-week average gain of 4.2%.

For credit, purchases at fast food restaurants have nearly returned to 2019 levels, finishing week 39 down 0.3%, down slightly from the four-week average gain of 1.4%. However, spending at eating places fell 16.7% in Week 39, in line with the four-week average drop of 16.9%.

Spending at bars rose 11.6% year for the week by debit and fell 19.6% by credit card.


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