PSCU Tracking Transaction Trends Amid COVID-19: Week Ending May 10, 2020

As the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow, PSCU[1], the nation’s premier payments credit union service organization, updated its weekly transaction analysis from its Owner credit union members on a same-store basis to identify the impact of COVID-19 on consumer spending and shopping trends.

To provide relevant updates on market performance, experts from PSCU’s Advisors Plus and Data & Analytics teams today released year-over-year weekly performance data trends. In this week’s installment, PSCU compares the 19th week of the year (the week ending May 10, 2020 compared to the week ending May 12, 2019).

  • Overall credit card spend was down 17.0% compared to the same week last year, and overall debit card spend was up 12.3% year over year. For credit, it was the fourth consecutive week of strengthening results. For debit, it is the fifth consecutive week of improvements and the weekly spend for debit card is above historical growth rates. 
  • The impact of the federal government stimulus package is still being seen, as the average debit card purchase amount was up 19.9%, year over year. For the sixth straight week, the volume of overall debit transactions increased. Overall debit transactions finished the week down 6.3% year over year, compared to being down 9.8% in the prior week. There is an increase in ATM deposits last week, possibly indicating the arrival of paper stimulus checks. ATM deposits were up 11.1% compared to 2019, while overall ATM transactions remained down, finishing week 19 down 19.2%.
  • The positive trend in consumer goods continued in week 19, with a greater percentage improvement in debit card purchases. In this category year over year, there was a 6.0% increase on credit card spend and an increase of 34.3% on debit card spend for the week ending May 10. The gains in the consumer goods category come from book stores (Amazon), wholesale distributors and manufacturers and retail stores. The consumer goods sector is negatively affected by clothing stores and automobiles.
  • Spending behaviors have changed with “stay at home” orders in place, as card-present (CP) versus card-not-present (CNP) transaction counts and dollars spent have seen a shift.
    • In week 19, credit CNP transactions account for 51.3% of overall credit transactions and credit CNP purchases account for 59.8% of the total spend, up significantly from 32% and 45%, respectively, year over year.
    • Debit CNP transactions account for 34.2% of overall debit transactions and debit CNP purchases account for 46.3% of the total spend, up significantly from 20% and 33%, respectively, year over year.
    • As a significant contributor to the CNP category, we have aggregated the merchant categories for Amazon to create a comprehensive view. For week 19, Amazon credit purchases are up 55%, while Amazon debit purchases are up 132% year over year.
  • There were are eight states without state-level, governor-issued “stay at home” orders in place. The weekly buying patterns for these states mimic the overall U.S. weekly spending trends. For these eight states, credit card spend was down by 12.6%, improving at a greater rate than the overall U.S. Debit card spend was up by 11.2%, similar to the overall U.S. We are watching the now 46 states who were easing “stay at home” restrictions by May 16, representing 96% of the U.S. population. Georgia, which started easing restrictions on April 24, has seen increases in debit purchases at a greater rate of improvement compared to the entire U.S. Debit purchases in Georgia finished week 19 up by 15.4%, while credit card purchases in Georgia were down by 19.1%.
  • For the states/districts hardest hit by the pandemic (“hot zones”), spending is improving at the same rate as the overall U.S. The credit card spend for CA, CT, DC, IL, LA, MI, NJ, NY was down 21.6% last week. Debit card spend for these same areas was up 8.5% year over year.
  • Grocery stores/supermarkets continue to show good year-over-year spending behaviors. The week ending May 10 finished at an increased rate of 21.0% over the comparable 2019 week for credit and 27.2% for debit. Debit card spend remains elevated above typical growth levels, but not as high as increases that were realized during the peak March weeks of COVID-19 stockpiling. These elevated rates are an offset to the negatively impacted restaurant/dining sector, in which credit spend was down by 50.4% and debit was down by 24.8%.

“Our data continues to show signs of consumer awakening, with the growth rate for debit spend above historic levels and credit card spend continuing to show week-over-week improvements,” said Glynn Frechette, senior vice president, Advisors Plus at PSCU. “In areas that are starting the reopening process, we are seeing stronger growth, particularly for debit. It is also encouraging that the growth observed spans most spend categories.”

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