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Consumers spending outlook brightens in May

Consumer spending in May increased 4.2%, according to the latest SpendTrend report from First Data Corporation, with the retail sector enjoying renewed vigor.

First Data’s SpendTrend tracks same-store point-of-sale data by credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT, closed-loop prepaid cards and checks from nearly four million merchant locations serviced by First Data. The spending increase of 4.2%, compared to 4.1% in April.

Retail spending growth of 1.7% marked a slight uptick compared to April’s growth of 1.3% as warmer weather across most regions, with the exception of the Northeast, supported retail foot traffic, according to First Data. Although the 1.7% increase lagged the total spending figure, May marked the strongest growth in seven months, primarily driven by spending at building material and supply dealers (6.7% in May vs. 3.6% in April) and furniture and home furnishings merchants (1.4% in May vs. -0.7% in April).  Average ticket growth of 1.2 % in May gained steam against April’s 0.5% growth, driven by higher year-over-year gas prices, higher food prices and an increase in some leisure-related categories.

“A number of factors, including normalized weather, pent-up demand, falling unemployment and rising home prices supported consumers’ willingness to spend in May,” said Krish Mantripragada, SVP of information and analytics solutions at First Data. “Credit card spending growth continued to be strong and led all other payment types. The surge in spending growth at hotel and travel merchants, building material and home furnishing merchants, where credit is the primary payment tool, was a major driver supported by easing lending standards and payroll growth.”

Other areas of growth included hotel  spending growth of 9.3%, a 12 month high, compared to April’s 7%. Gas Station spending growth of 3.6% was higher compared to April’s growth of 3.3% and was another key supporting factor in overall growth as gas prices remained elevated versus last year, according to First Data.