November Spending Trends: Despite resilient holiday shopping season, overall spending volume falls

CO-OP Solutions Payments Trends Report (Spending Data from November 1-30)

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CA (December 13, 2022) — As shoppers navigate store aisles and online retailers this shopping season, many are cautiously spending, with an eye toward better days ahead.

Jobs growth stayed robust in November, rising by 263,000 positions, virtually identical to the previous month despite high-profile layoff announcements across the tech sector and among high-profile firms like Gannett, Morgan Stanley and PepsiCo. The unemployment rate remained at 3.7% for the month.

Inflation seems to be easing, with grocery prices rising by just 0.4% in October, the smallest increase since December 2021. With an added boost from falling gas prices, consumers are gaining some much-needed breathing room in their budgets.

Overall spending trends within Co-op’s credit union client portfolios showed positive upticks in categories including Amazon/Bookstores, Furniture and Retail. Most other categories showed modest to significant month over month declines.

Overall, credit spending was down 4.7% for the month, while debit declined by 2.7%.

Here are some of the key spending trends being watched closely this month by Co-op’s SmartGrowth Team:

#1: Consumers Seek Out Deals Amidst Strong Holiday Shopping Volume

Despite inflationary pressures, retailers enjoyed strong Black Friday results, with a bigger than expected year over year increase of 2.3% in online sales for the crucial holiday shopping weekend.

An analysis of Co-op’s client credit union portfolio data for Department Stores, Discounts Stores, Retail, Specialty Retail, Wholesale and Amazon merchant categories showed solid increases in November compared with the same month in 2021, with increases in transaction amount and count across both debit and credit in all these categories. These results are consistent with the National Retail Federation’s forecast of between 6% and 8% growth in holiday sales over 2021, and reflect a strong bounce back for debit spending, following two months of negative growth compared with 2021.

According to Amazon’s CEO, consumers are in bargain hunting mode this season, with a focus on paying less for big-ticket items like TVs and electronics.

“As in years past, holiday shoppers are still all about the deals,” said Beth Phillips, Director, Co-op Solutions. “However, they are shifting away from department stores and other legacy retailers in favor of Amazon, wholesale and discount merchants in search of the best sales. In another blow to traditional stores, those consumers looking for more personalized gifts and holiday shopping ‘experiences’ are now shopping at specialty or local merchants.”


#2: Credit Use Continues Long-Term Climb


Consumers’ growing appetite for discounts and deals is not holding them back from spending on credit. To the contrary, U.S. credit card debt posted a new record in the third quarter, reaching $930 billion for the first time. However, Co-op data showed month over month declines in both debit and credit for November, with debit transactions down by 2.7% and credit down for 4.7%.

“Even though we are tracking relatively higher spending on debit in recent months, the long-term trend over the past year has been an increase in credit use,” said John Patton, Co-op Senior Payments Advisor. “Most holiday spending has been on credit, whereas consumers are trying to use debit and cash on hand to manage their weekly budgets.”

#3: Discretionary Spending Volume Declines

In perhaps the most surprising trend for the month, several categories showed significant transaction count declines in November versus October, with Dining & Entertainment down by 7.5% in debit and 10% in credit, and Travel down a similar 8.5% in Debit and 10.5% in credit. Within the Travel category, only Auto Rental debit transactions showed growth for the month.

“What we’re beginning to see play out is consumers being more frugal with their spending,” said Phillips. “Conserving resources for necessities like rent, utilities, gas and groceries, while holding back on discretionary spending is very typical recessionary spending behavior.”


Month-Over-Month Category-Level Spending (Comparing November 2022 to October 2022)

Please note that the category spending below reflects month-over-month comparisons (rather than year-over-year) – i.e., compares November 2022 with October 2022, rather than November 2022 to November 2021.

What Credit Unions Should Do Now


Holiday shopping season is winding down, but it’s not too late to for credit unions to activate their “spend and get” campaigns to maintain top of wallet status. Focus on those key merchant categories where members are most likely to spend over the holidays, including Department Stores, Discount Stores, Amazon and Digital Goods.

Credit unions should also make sure they are offering digital card issuance, to ensure members have access to their credit or debit card accounts immediately through a mobile app or online banking system while waiting for a new or reissued physical card. Credit unions should also promote their cards for use in their members’ favorite digital wallet apps, including Google Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Garmin Pay.

Looking ahead to 2023, credit unions should consider including credit line management and change-in-term efforts to ensure their lines and rates align to reward or protect members.

More information on the Co-op SmartGrowth Consulting Team can be found here.

About Co-op Solutions

Co-op Solutions is a credit union-owned financial technology platform built using an industry-leading ecosystem, and whose mission is to connect credit unions to the technology, strategic partnership and scale they need to best serve their members and grow now and into the future. Co-op Solutions partners with credit unions to unlock their potential so they can compete; does the hard work of innovation, creating a one-stop opportunity to help credit unions grow; and offers knowledge and expertise in a world where everything must be integrated. Founded in 1981, Co-op Solutions services 2,650 credit union clients, processes eight billion transactions annually, and manages a nationwide ATM network of more than 30,000 and a 5,700-location shared branch network. For more information, visit


Bill Prichard, APR, Director, Public Relations
Co-op Solutions
(909) 532-9416

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