Consumer Payment Card News

Dec 20 Biggest Shopping Day

A pre-Christmas mini-surge in spending boosted same-store sales for the holiday shopping period to 2.2 percent over the same period last year, according to TeleCheck Services, the world’s leading check acceptance company. The data compare retail sales from November 28 through December 29 to the equivalent 31-day period last year, and are based on a 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 Corporation (FDC:NYSE).

“Shoppers accelerated their spending pace during the final three days before Christmas, with two of those days making the list of the season’s top five shopping days. Despite this mini-surge in spending, sales dropped off sharply after Christmas, resulting in a modest gain in same-store sales that did not meet early projections. Some of the factors affecting holiday retail sales include a move by consumers toward travel, entertainment and other services in lieu of traditional gifts, a drop in the population of very young children who are major recipients of gifts, and deep discounting by retailers throughout the season,” said Dr. William Ford, TeleCheck’s Senior Economic Advisor.

The top five shopping days, in descending order, were Saturday, December 20; Tuesday, December 23; Saturday, December 13; Monday, December 22, and the day-after-Thanksgiving, November 28.

Sales in the Southeast rose 4.6 percent, with gains of 5.0 percent in Tennessee, 4.3 percent in Florida, 2.9 percent in Georgia, 2.6 percent in The Carolinas and 1.5 percent in Louisiana. Nashville’s sales rose 3.5 percent, but Memphis’ dropped 3.0 percent. Sales rose 4.1 percent in Orlando, 2.3 percent in Tampa and 0.1 percent in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale. Atlanta’s sales rose 3.4 percent and New Orleans’ gained 0.7 percent.

The Midwest was up 2.9 percent, with Wisconsin up 4.8 percent and Ohio up 3.3 percent. Sales rose 2.4 percent in Illinois 1.1 percent in Minnesota and 1.0 percent in Michigan. Milwaukee’s sales rose 3.1 percent, Cleveland’s gained 2.4 percent and Chicago’s jumped 5.1 percent. Sales dropped 0.2 percent in Minneapolis/St. Paul and rose 0.6 percent in Detroit.

The Northeast increased 2.2 percent, with sales up 5.4 percent in Massachusetts and 3.0 percent in New York. Boston was up 2.9 percent, but New York City was down 3.5 percent.

The Mid-Atlantic rose 1.6 percent, with New Jersey up 1.8 percent. Sales were up by 1.6 percent in Virginia, 0.9 percent in Pennsylvania, 0.7 percent in Maryland and 0.6 percent in the District of Columbia. Sales rose 0.4 percent in Pittsburgh, dropped 0.3 percent in Philadelphia and rose 1.3 percent in Baltimore.

Sales in the West increased 1.4 percent, with Hawaii up 3.2 percent, Colorado up 2.7 percent and Arizona up 2.6 percent. Washington’s sales rose 2.0 percent and California’s grew 1.3 percent, while Oregon’s dropped 0.2 percent. Sales rose 1.4 percent in Denver, 3.9 percent in Phoenix and 3.6 percent in Seattle. San Diego’s sales rose 2.4 percent and Los Angeles’ gained 2.3 percent, while the Bay Area’s dropped 0.1 percent. Portland’s sales rose 1.4 percent.

Southwest sales were down 0.2 percent. Missouri’s sales rose 1.4 percent and Texas’ gained 0.1 percent, while Oklahoma’s dropped 0.8 percent. Sales gained 1.8 percent in St. Louis, but were down 2.4 percent in Kansas City. Sales rose 2.9 percent in Austin, 2.1 percent in Dallas/Fort Worth, 0.7 percent in San Antonio and 0.5 percent in Houston. Oklahoma City’s sales were up 1.1 percent while Tulsa’s dropped 2.7 percent.

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 over $40.2 billion in checks and processed more than 645 million check inquiries.

Note: The TeleCheck logo and additional information on retail sales figures can be downloaded from the TeleCheck web site at

Founded in 1992, Hackensack, NJ-based First Data Corporation 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 us on the Internet at

Dr. William 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.

NATIONAL                            2.2%

SOUTHEAST                 4.6%      WEST               1.4%
Florida                   4.3%     Arizona             2.6%
 Miami/Ft. Lauderdale     0.1%       Phoenix           3.9%
 Orlando                  4.1%      California         1.3%
 Tampa                    2.3%       Bay Area         -0.1%
Louisiana                 1.5%     Los Angeles         2.3%
 New Orleans              0.7%       San Diego         2.4%
Georgia                   2.9%     Oregon             -0.2%
 Atlanta                  3.4%       Portland          1.4%
Tennessee                 5.0%     Washington          2.0%
 Memphis                 -3.0%        Seattle          3.6%
 Nashville                3.5%      Colorado           2.7%
The Carolinas             2.6%     Denver              1.4%
                                   Hawaii              3.2%
SOUTHWEST                -0.2%
Texas                     0.1%      NORTHEAST          2.2%
 Austin                   2.9%      Massachusetts      5.4%
 Dallas/Ft. Worth         2.1%      Boston             2.9%
 Houston                  0.5%      New York           3.0%
 San Antonio              0.7%      New York City     -3.5%
Missouri                  1.4%
 Kansas City             -2.4%
 St. Louis                1.8%
Oklahoma                 -0.8%
 Oklahoma City            1.1%
 Tulsa                   -2.7%

MIDWEST                           2.9%
Illinois                          2.4%
 Chicago                          5.1%
Michigan                          1.0%
 Detroit                          0.6%
Minnesota                         1.1%
 Minneapolis/St. Paul            -0.2%
Wisconsin                         4.8%
 Milwaukee                        3.1%
Ohio                              3.3%
 Cleveland                        2.4%

 MID-ATLANTIC                     1.6%
District of Columbia              0.6%
Pennsylvania                      0.9%
 Philadelphia                    -0.3%
 Pittsburgh                       0.4%
New Jersey                        1.8%
Virginia                          1.6%
Maryland                          0.7%
 Baltimore                        1.3%

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