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COVID-19 Transaction Trends from PSCU – Week 21

PSCU, the nation’s premier payments credit union service organization, has updated its weekly transaction analysis from its Owner credit union members on a same-store basis to identify the impact of COVID-19 on consumer spending and shopping trends.

To provide relevant updates on market performance, experts from PSCU’s Advisors Plus and Data & Analytics teams today released year-over-year weekly performance data trends. In this week’s installment, PSCU compares the 21st week of the year (the week ending May 24, 2020 compared to the week ending May 26, 2019).

  • Overall credit card spend was down 12.5% compared to the same week last year, and overall debit card spend was up 11.7% year-over-year. For credit, it was the sixth consecutive week of strengthening results. For debit, it was the sixth consecutive week of year-over-year growth since turning negative on March 29.
  • The average debit card purchase amount continues to be strong, up 17.2% for the week year-over-year. This continues to be driven by larger transactions in segments such as Grocery, and strong growth in this merchant category (average transaction amount up 16.4% year over year) has changed the overall transaction mix. The volume of overall debit transactions improved last week, ending the week down 4.7% year-over-year compared to being down 6.6% in the prior week.
  • The positive trend in consumer goods continued in week 21, with much higher year-over-year growth in debit card purchases. In this category year-over-year, there was a 37.4% increase on debit card spend and a 10.9% increase on credit card spend for the week ending May 24. The gains in the consumer goods category came from bookstores (Amazon), home goods and automotive goods, with continued negative impact from clothing stores.
  • ATM deposits finished last week up 9.9%, while overall ATM transactions remained down, finishing week 21 down 24.2% on a year-over-year basis.
  • Spending adjustments continue with “stay at home” orders in place, as card-present (CP) versus card-not-present (CNP) transaction counts and dollars spent have shifted. However, we are starting to see a shift back as consumers begin conducting more transactions at physical locations that have now reopened.

o   In week 21, credit CNP transactions accounted for 48.2% of overall credit transactions and credit CNP purchasesaccounted for 56.3% of the total spend, up significantly from 31.3% and 43.8%, respectively, a year ago.

o   Debit CNP transactions accounted for 31.9% of overall debit transactions and debit CNP purchases accounted for 43.1% of the total spend, up significantly from 19.9% and 32.1%, respectively, for the same week last year.

o   As a significant contributor to the CNP category, we have aggregated the merchant categories for Amazon to create a comprehensive view. For week 21, Amazon credit purchases were up 59%, while Amazon debit purchases were up 120% year-over-year.

  • Since May 21, all 50 states eased “stay at home” restrictions. Previously, there were eight states without state-level, governor-issued “stay at home” orders in place. The weekly buying patterns for these states mimicked the overall U.S. weekly spending trends. For these eight states, debit card spend was up by 14.1%, improving at a greater rate than the overall U.S. credit card spend, which was down 7.8%, an improvement similar to the overall U.S.
  • For the states/districts hardest hit by the pandemic (“hot zones”), spending is improving at the same rate as the U.S. overall. The credit card spend for CA, CT, DC, IL, LA, MI, NJ and NY was down 17.0% last week. Debit card spend for these same areas was up a modest 3.1% year over year.
  • Grocery stores/supermarkets continue to show good year-over-year spending behaviors. The week ending May 24 finished at an increased rate of 14.8% over the comparable 2019 week for credit and 16.4% for debit. Debit card spend remains elevated above typical growth levels, but not as high as increases that were realized during the peak March weeks of COVID-19 stockpiling. These elevated rates are an offset to the negatively impacted restaurant/dining sector, in which credit spend was down by 45.5% and debit was down by 18.8%.

“Our latest data shows continued progress for both debit and credit. While key sectors such as travel and entertainment remain muted, others including gas and dining are inching upward,” said Glynn Frechette, senior vice president, Advisors Plus at PSCU. “We have now seen six straight weeks of improving results for credit, while debit has been at or above historic growth levels over that same period. These trends are encouraging as the rebound continues.” 

PSCU will continue to develop and share analysis of transaction trends on a regular basis throughout the COVID-19 crisis.