Consumer Payment Card News

Holiday Sales Weak

Consumer spending for the three-day Thanksgiving weekend showed only a slight gain over last year’s strong Thanksgiving weekend sales, resulting in a 1.0 percent gain in same-store sales, according to TeleCheck Services, the world’s leading check-acceptance company.

Data are based on a year-over-year, same-store comparison of the dollar volume of authorized checks written by consumers at more than 27,000 of TeleCheck’s 167,000 subscribing locations. Checks account for more than one-third of retail spending. TeleCheck is a subsidiary of First Data Corp..

“Sales slowed over the weekend, resulting in a 1.0 percent same-store sales gain for the three-day period, compared to the 4.3 percent gain TeleCheck reported for the same three days in 1996,” said Dr. William Ford, TeleCheck’s senior economic adviser.

“Many consumers took advantage of early sales promotions and discounts, which resulted in smaller receipts for retailers. And many others used the Thanksgiving weekend as an opportunity to browse and plan for items they’ll buy later in the season. For the last few years, spending has slowed following the Thanksgiving weekend, then increased closer to Christmas, with the biggest shopping days occurring the last week before Christmas.”

The Northeast was the strongest region, up 4.4 percent. Sales rose 4.3 percent in New York, with New York City up 2.1 percent. Massachusetts’ sales grew by 2.0 percent, with Boston up 3.2 percent.

In the Southeast, sales rose 2.3 percent, with Georgia up 4.5 percent, Tennessee gaining 3.3 percent and Florida rising 2.1 percent. Sales dropped 1.6 percent in Louisiana and 2.7 percent in the Carolinas.

Atlanta’s sales rose 5.2 percent and Nashville’s grew by 2.8 percent, while Memphis’ dropped 2.9 percent and New Orleans declined 1.8 percent. Sales rose by 3.4 percent in Tampa and 2.5 percent in Orlando, but dropped 0.5 percent in Miami/Fort Lauderdale.

The Midwest had a 1.4 percent gain, with Minnesota up 3.1 percent, Wisconsin up 2.4 percent and Ohio up 1.9 percent. Sales rose 0.4 percent in Michigan and dropped 0.9 percent in Illinois. Sales were down 0.4 percent in Minneapolis/St. Paul and up 5.3 percent in Milwaukee. Cleveland’s sales rose by 1.9 percent, Detroit’s were up 0.5 percent and Chicago’s rose 2.3 percent.

The Mid-Atlantic was up 0.3 percent, with New Jersey up 3.3 percent, Maryland up 0.3 percent and Pennsylvania up 0.2 percent. Virginia’s sales dropped 0.1 percent and the District of Columbia’s were down 1.9 percent. Baltimore’s sales dropped 0.8 percent, Pittsburgh’s were down 0.3 percent and Philadelphia’s sales dropped 2.8 percent.

Sales in the West were down 0.7 percent. Oregon’s sales rose 5.3 percent, Colorado’s and Washington’s were both up 0.4 percent and Arizona’s grew 0.2 percent. Hawaii’s sales dropped 1.0 percent and California’s declined by 1.6 percent.

Sales rose by 3.2 percent in Portland and by 1.5 percent in Denver, but dropped 1.0 percent in Seattle. Sales rose 2.1 percent in Phoenix and 0.7 percent in San Diego, while Los Angeles’ sales dropped 0.7 percent and the Bay Area’s declined by 2.0 percent.

The Southwest’s sales dropped 1.3 percent, with Oklahoma up 1.3 percent, Missouri down 0.7 percent and Texas down 1.6 percent. Sales rose by 1.7 percent in Tulsa and 1.6 percent in Oklahoma City and dropped 1.4 percent in St. Louis and 5.1 percent in Kansas City. Sales rose 3.0 percent in Austin and 0.3 percent in Houston, but declined 0.3 percent in Dallas/Fort Worth and 1.8 percent in San Antonio.

TeleCheck’s index is compiled on a calendar basis and is based on the total sales volume of check-writing consumers at a broad cross-section of retailers. Figures are not adjusted for inflation. Checks account for 37 percent of retail spending. In 1996, TeleCheck authorized more than $40.2 billion in checks and processed more than 645 million check inquiries.

Founded in 1992, Hackensack, N.J.-based First Data is a global leader in payment systems, electronic commerce and information management products and services. First Data and its principal operating units process the information that allows millions of consumers to pay for goods or services by credit, debit or smart card at the point of sale or over the Internet; by check, or wire money — seamlessly and effortlessly.

For more information about First Data, visit the company on the Internet at http://www.firstdatacorp.com.

Ford holds the Weatherford Chair of Finance at Middle Tennessee State University. Earlier in his career he was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and served on former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker’s Federal Open Market Committee.

Note to Editors: The TeleCheck logo and additional information on retail sales figures can be downloaded from the TeleCheck Web site at http://www.telecheck.com.

             TeleCheck National Holiday Retail Sales Index
          Thanksgiving Weekend Sales (Period:  11/28-11/30/97)
                             Dec. 2, 1997

                     11/28-11/30/97         November
                     --------------         --------

NATIONAL                  1.0%               -0.4%

SOUTHEAST                 2.3%                0.9%
Florida                   2.1%                1.4%
 Miami/Fort Lauderdale   -0.5%               -2.9%
 Orlando                  2.5%                2.8%
 Tampa                    3.4%                0.3%
Louisiana                -1.6%               -0.9%
 New Orleans             -1.8%               -2.1%
Georgia                   4.5%                4.7%
 Atlanta                  5.2%                5.3%
Tennessee                 3.3%                2.0%
 Memphis                 -2.9%               -4.0%
 Nashville                2.8%                3.7%
The Carolinas            -2.7%               -3.5%

SOUTHWEST                -1.3%               -0.5%
Texas                    -1.6%                0.1%
 Austin                   3.0%                0.2%
 Dallas/Fort Worth       -0.3%                0.6%
 Houston                  0.3%                2.8%
 San Antonio             -1.8%               -2.8%
Missouri                 -0.7%                1.2%
 Kansas City             -5.1%               -7.6%
 St. Louis               -1.4%                4.1%
Oklahoma                  1.3%               -2.0%
 Oklahoma City            1.6%               -0.7%
 Tulsa                    1.7%               -2.2%

WEST                     -0.7%               -1.3%
Arizona                   0.2%                3.7%
 Phoenix                  2.1%                5.1%
California               -1.6%               -1.3%
 Bay Area                -2.0%               -3.4%
 Los Angeles             -0.7%                0.5%
 San Diego                0.7%                1.8%
Oregon                    5.3%               -2.3%
 Portland                 3.2%               -3.0%
Washington                0.4%               -1.2%
 Seattle                 -1.0%                1.1%
Colorado                  0.4%               -0.2%
 Denver                   1.5%                2.0%
Hawaii                   -1.0%                0.6%

NORTHEAST                 4.4%                0.1%
Massachusetts             2.0%                1.2%
 Boston                   3.2%               -0.4%
New York                  4.3%               -0.7%
 New York City            2.1%               -5.3%

MIDWEST                   1.4%                0.9%
Illinois                 -0.9%                0.7%
 Chicago                  2.3%                3.3%
Michigan                  0.4%                1.2%
 Detroit                  0.5%                0.3%
Minnesota                 3.1%               -1.9%
 Minneapolis/St. Paul    -0.4%               -2.4%
Wisconsin                 2.4%                0.4%
 Milwaukee                5.3%               -0.5%
Ohio                      1.9%                2.2%
 Cleveland                1.9%                3.0%

MID-ATLANTIC              0.3%               -2.5%
District of Columbia     -1.9%               -2.7%
Pennsylvania              0.2%               -3.7%
 Philadelphia            -2.8%               -5.1%
 Pittsburgh              -0.3%               -2.4%
New Jersey                3.3%               -3.6%
Virginia                 -0.1%               -0.8%
Maryland                  0.3%               -4.1%
 Baltimore               -0.8%               -2.0%

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