Despite economic downturn, Canadians flock to department/apparel stores over discount retailers during the holiday season



    
    Contrary to analyst speculation on reduced credit card use, Moneris
    reveals increase in debit and credit transactions across Canada
    

    TORONTO, Jan. 9 /CNW/ - Moneris Solutions, Canada's largest processor of
debit, credit and gift card payments released its 2008 holiday season data
that revealed resilience and - for some merchant categories - dramatic growth
in consumer spending across the country. Department and apparel stores made
significant gains in December, while discount stores suffered the steepest
credit and debit card dollar volume decline of all merchant categories studied
by Moneris.
    "For months, there have been signs of a softening retail market, as
Canadians become more conscious and restrained in their spending habits," said
Brian Green, SVP, Moneris Solutions. "Our national, multi-method-of-payment
data proves that in fact, Canadians continued to spend during the holiday
season and the number of transactions actually rose over previous year. These
numbers offer merchants and consumers alike a reliable pulse on the Canadian
economy."
    Nationally, department stores saw the amount of money charged to credit
and debit cards climb by nine per cent, compared to the same time last year.
Apparel stores came in second place, with a six per cent growth in credit and
debit card sales behind department stores. Astonishingly, discount stores
failed to live up to the growth predicted by some retail analysts and actually
suffered a decline of 11 per cent in credit and debit card dollar volume.
Their wholesale counterparts similarly weathered a substantial decline this
holiday of nine per cent. The average ticket size of each transaction across
all merchant categories decreased by three per cent, which is attributed to
the discounts offered by retailers, lower gas prices and the overall economic
climate.
    Nearly every major merchant category experienced spikes in consumer
spending on credit and debit cards from the second to the third week of
December compared to the same weeks in 2007. This reflected the aggressive and
early discount strategy retailers deployed to entice shoppers off the streets
and through their doors. Increased spending activity was most dramatic in
department and apparel stores (up six per cent and nine per cent
respectively), as well as electronics (up 11 per cent) and jewellery retailers
(up 21 per cent). However, only electronics retailers sustained growth into
December's final Boxing Day week, with national sales rising 17 per cent from
the previous week.
    Restaurants fared remarkably well with much narrower weekly declines last
month compared to December 2007. Moreover, eateries prolonged their
mid-December spike with a healthy increase of eight per cent in the last week
of the month compared to the same week last year (although they were down an
overall six per cent for the month compared to December 2007). Drug stores and
jewellery retailers were the least volatile performers in December 2008, down
just 1.5 and one per cent respectively from last December. Nationally, all
merchants pulled in two per cent more in the month of December compared to the
same time last year, and seven per cent more in the final week alone, ending
what began as a pessimistic holiday season on a relatively bright note.
    Across the country, December 22nd was the busiest shopping day for credit
cards, while debit cards were most used the next day as Canadians filled up
their gas tanks to visit their families.
    "Canadians braved both the economic climate and December's inclement
weather to go on and spend more this December than they did last year,"
continued Green.
    Moneris's data covers all merchant categories and tallies the dollar
value as well as the number of transactions made on its debit and credit card
terminals at retailers across Canada in December 2008. The company's
infrastructure helps merchants process high volumes of transactions and
payments quickly and securely.

    About Moneris Solutions

    As one of North America's largest providers of payment processing
solutions, Moneris offers credit, debit, wireless and online payment services
for merchants in virtually every industry segment and processes more than 3
billion transactions annually. Through its Ernex division, Moneris offers
electronic loyalty and stored-value gift card programs. With more than 350,000
merchant locations, Moneris provides the hardware, software and systems needed
to improve business efficiency and manage payments. For more information
please visit www.moneris.com.





For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Annette Robertson, MAVERICK
Public Relations, (416) 640-5525 ext. 231, annetter@maverickpr.com

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