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Atlanta -- Dollar volume growth on cards overall was a healthy 6.9% in December, according to First Data Corporation’s First Data SpendTrend analysis for the full month of December 2011 compared to December 2010. SpendTrend tracks same-store consumer spending by credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT cards and checks at U.S. merchant locations.
However, strong auto sales, driven by low interest rates, likely diverted consumer spending to car sales from other retail areas, the report said. Auto sales are not captured in SpendTrend figures.
Overall year-over-year average tickets declined 0.1% in December, the first negative reading since January 2011 as merchants resorted to steep discounting to spur holiday traffic. Consumers responded favorably to bargain pricing, as overall transaction growth was up 7.0% in December. In particular, most retail merchant categories had higher sales growth in December versus November.
“Consumer willingness to spend in December was based largely on the ability to find bargains and merchants utilized steep discounting to drive traffic,” said Silvio Tavares, senior VP and division manager of First Data Global Information and Analytics Solutions, which publishes SpendTrend.