PSCU – March year-over-year transaction trends update

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (March 27, 2020) — Given the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, PSCU, the nation’s premier payments credit union service organization, compared transactions of its Owner credit union members on a same-store basis from March 2019 to March 2020 to identify the impact on consumer spending and shopping trends. Experts from PSCU’s Advisors Plus and Data & Analytics teams today released year-over-year, same-store insights from the first three weeks of March (March 1-21):

  • While year-over-year spending for the first 21 days of March was up 9.0% overall, the travel sector saw a dramatic decrease of 30.3%.
  • Grocery stores/supermarkets saw the greatest increase in spend and transaction volume. Year-over-year, transaction dollars are up 41.3%, with debit card incremental spend outpacing credit cards by 3.5x. The average grocery transaction on a credit card is up 25.0% or $11.41.
  • The consumer goods sector posted an overall gain of 9.2% in dollars spent, with the vast majority of the increase coming from debit cards. The incremental debit card purchase amounts were twice as high as credit cards. Clothing stores (a subset of consumer goods) have seen a substantive decrease in year-over-year sales, with a 22.5% drop in dollars and 23.9% drop in transactions.
  • Drug stores/pharmacies have seen a 21.4% increase in total dollars spent with an average increase per sale of 7.2%, or $1.93 per sale. The year-over-year increase in drug store transactions on debit cards outpaced credit cards by 2x.
  • Gas transactions were flat, only increasing by 0.04%. With the drop in price for crude oil, gas prices are lower in 2020, resulting in a drop of 4.9% in total spend and a lower average ticket of $1.04 per transaction.

“With the pressures and unknowns of the ongoing economic impact from COVID-19, we are continuing to see consumers choose debit as their most preferred payment form, aligning with the trends we saw in PSCU’s most recent Eye on Payments study. While it is still in the early days to see the impact on consumer spending, we anticipate further erosion in many of these spending categories as the impact of the regional lockdowns continue,” said Glynn Frechette, SVP, Advisors Plus at PSCU. “As always, it is important for credit unions to keep a pulse on their members’ purchasing behaviors and financial needs. Right now, the credit union philosophy of ‘people helping people’ is more important than ever as we face this unique and unprecedented economic environment.”

The data compares spending behaviour for the same PSCU Owner credit unions and their members in the same-store categories, year over year. PSCU is planning to continue developing and sharing analysis of transaction trends on a regular basis moving forward through the COVID-19 crisis.

The CUSO expects more challenging updates in the coming weeks as the pandemic situation continues and further effects of non-essential retail store closures, event and travel cancellations and change in employment are felt.

About PSCU

PSCU, the nation’s premier payments CUSO and an integrated financial technology solutions provider, supports the success of more than 2,400 financial institutions and processes nearly 7.7 billion transactions annually. Committed to service excellence and focused on continuous innovation, PSCU’s payment processing, fraud and risk management, data and analytics, digital banking, strategic consulting and real-time payments platforms, along with 24/7/365 member support via its contact centers, help deliver personalized, connected experiences. The origin of PSCU’s model is collaboration and scale, and the company has leveraged its influence on behalf of credit unions and their members for more than 45 years. Today, PSCU provides an end-to-end, competitive advantage that enables credit unions to securely grow and meet evolving consumer demands. For more information, visit


Peyton Burgess
On behalf of PSCU

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