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Thanksgiving Weekend Shopping Numbers Generally Soar Upward Vs. Last Year
November 26, 2012

The reports about consumer spending over the long Thanksgiving shopping period extending into today, Cyber Monday, continue to flow ad nauseam in the mainstream press. Digital Transactions News sifted through the statistical stew to find the numerical nuggets of greatest interest to merchant acquirers. The early data indicate that, when compared with 2012’s holiday season, acquirers are on track to get a modest lift in processing revenues from more transaction volume and card issuers will get more interchange revenue. And mobile payments look like they’ll be the biggest percentage gainers of all.

JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Chase Holiday Pulse, an index that tracks charge volume on Chase-issued credit cards, says volume at brick-and-mortar stores jumped 70.8% for the 24 hours of Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 22) versus 2011’s Thanksgiving, and transactions increased 19.3%. Year-over-year sales jumped what Chase calls “an incredible 251%” between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and midnight, undoubtedly a reflection of ever-earlier store openings on Thanksgiving evening.

The earlier hours apparently shifted some volume from Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday dollar volume on Chase credit cards fell 7.2% and transactions slipped 3.6%. Charge volume recovered on Saturday and Sunday to increase about 3% on both days.

For the holiday season year to date, which Chase pegs as beginning on Oct. 29, in-store charge volume and transactions on Chase cards are up 1.4% and 2.6% over 2011, bringing the average ticket down 1.1%.

As they have for years, electronic-commerce growth rates once again are far outpacing sales growth in physical stores. Internet data analysis firm comScore Inc. reported Sunday that non-travel retail spending at online merchants from Nov. 1 through Nov. 23 totaled $13.7 billion, up 16% from $11.8 billion in the year-earlier period.

The so-called Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving that e-commerce merchants market as the big day for Internet shopping, is morphing into a cyber Thanksgiving weekend. E-commerce volumes on Thanksgiving Day came in at $633 million, up 32% from $479 million last year, according to comScore. And Black Friday online spending for the first time surpassed $1 billion ($1.04 billion), up 26% from $816 million in 2011.

Chase Holiday Pulse also tracks volumes generated by 50 large electronic-commerce merchants served by Chase Paymentech, JPMorgan Chase’s big acquiring subsidiary. Online sales on Saturday and Sunday grew 37.9% over the same period in 2011, with electronics sales up nearly 86% and toy sales up 56%.

Mobile commerce, meanwhile, is growing even faster. PayPal Inc., the mobile-payments leader, said that as of 2:00 p.m. Eastern time today, its mobile volume is up 196% from 2011’s Cyber Monday.

Citing results of a consumer survey it commissioned, the National Retail Federation estimated 247 million shoppers visited stores and Web sites over the Black Friday weekend versus 226 million in 2011, and they spent an estimated $59.1 billion, up 12.8% from $52.4 billion last year. The average shopper spent $423 over the weekend, up 6.3% from $398 last year. The NRF says two-thirds of consumers are paying for their purchases with cash.


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