Consumer Payment Card News

Xmas 2001

Between now and the end of the year, Americans will spend about $150 billion on holiday related purchases including gifts, travel, and entertainment. More than half of these purchases will be made on credit cards. Combined with non-holiday related card activity, consumers will charge an estimated $121.4 billion to their VISA, MasterCard, American Express and Discover credit cards between Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, the $121.4 billion figure is only 6.8% higher than last year’s dollar volume of credit card charges, and the most sluggish growth in a decade. Last year, Americans charged $113.7 billion, a 23% gain over 1999. If not for an extra shopping day this year, holiday credit card activity would be up by a mere 3.4%.
With retail holiday sales expected to climb about 2%, and with holiday travel expected to be off by more than 15%, credit card use will post a net gain due to the continuing displacement of checks and cash by major credit cards. Further enticing consumers to use bank credit cards this holiday season: super-low introductory interest rates and competitive post-introductory rates . . . . the lowest level in the industry’s history. Zero percent introductory rates are now being offered for up to 12 months and the overall average interest rate on bank credit cards has plunged to a record 14.48%.

During the 32 shopping days between the holidays, Americans will use their major credit cards more than 1.3 billion times or 1.7 million times per hour. Based on the projections, the average U.S. household will rack up slightly more than $1,150 in credit card charges during the holiday season.

Californians will continue to be the most active card users during the 2001 holiday shopping season, charging nearly $17.4 billion. New Yorkers are expected to charge about $10.2 billion this year between the holidays.

Totally consumers are expected to shell out $100 billion for gifts, $30 billion for entertainment and decorating, and $15 billion for travel during the holiday season.

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