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Chase has finger on the holiday pulse

WILMINGTON, Del. — The retail industry is awash with forecasts and projections during the holidays, but a near real-time indicator from Chase reveals how shoppers are actually behaving.

Data culled so far from Oct. 29-Nov. 15 shows that this year’s holiday season is off to a lively start, with year-over-year e-commerce sales volume up 12.3% and in-store growth up 1%. Based on figures so far, retailers are already offering early sales and promotions, jumpstarting consumer spending. Transactions so far are likewise showing a positive trend with year-over-year growth at 25% and 2.2% for online and in-store, respectively.

The seventh annual Chase Holiday Pulse is a comprehensive near real-time tracker of holiday shopping trends, which will be updated on Chase’s website (http://pulse.chasepaymentech.com/) every business day. It provides data tracking sales volume, payment transactions and average ticket value from 50 of the leading U.S. online retailers. Data is tracked and compiled by Chase Paymentech, a leading merchant acquirer, payment processor and subsidiary of JPMorgan Chase & Co. For the first time since its inception, the Pulse will also provide Chase cardholder spending data at brick-and-mortar stores.

“The holiday shopping season has always been a critical barometer for economic activity,” said Eileen Serra, CEO of Chase Card Services. “A strong start to the holiday shopping season typically sets the tone for sales volume for the remainder of the year.”

Early indicators point to a continued decline in e-commerce average ticket size, down 10.1% year-over-year. In-store ticket sizes saw a smaller decline, down 1.1%. This is consistent with last year’s Chase Holiday Pulse, which demonstrated a new trend in spending habits, wherein sales volume rose while average ticket prices declined.

For e-commerce purchases, sales growth is up 27.2% for consumer electronics and up 32.5% for mass market, which comprises large e-retailers providing affordably priced products such as electronics, apparel, furniture and jewelry. For in-store purchases, sales growth is 12% for sporting goods and up 5% for wholesale clubs.

“The improvement in October’s University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment over last year’s reading leads us to believe that holiday sales (over November and December) should rise by as much as 4.5% (on a year-over-year basis) versus last year’s 3.3% figure,” said Anthony Chan, head economist for JPMorgan Chase. “Additionally, the recent rise in housing prices and the healthy (year-to-date) jump in U.S. equity prices are likely to put downward pressure on U.S. savings rates and thereby provide some support to holiday sales this year.”