Press Release

Mastercard Spendingpulse™ Mid-Season Holiday Report on Retail Spending Finds Slowing Growth Trend After post Sandy Boost

Final 10 days Before Christmas have Potential to Account for Almost 24% of Season's Sales

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December 17, 2012

A SpendingPulse™ report released today by MasterCard Advisors, the professional services arm of MasterCard (NYSE:MA) found that after a three-week recovery of retail spending growth that started two weeks after Superstorm Sandy and lasted through the week ending December 1, a slowdown occurred in the week ending December 8. After a surge in growth in late November some key sectors such as Specialty Apparel slipped into negative growth in early December.

“Given the season’s modest start, the numbers we’re seeing so far are highlighting the importance of the last two weeks of the season. After a brief recovery in growth rates after Sandy, holiday sector sales growth has again subsided. Based on the inconsistent growth patterns during the 2012 season to date, the stretch run is even more important than it has been over the last few years and Super Saturday – the last Saturday before Christmas -- is going to have to live up to its name,” said Michael McNamara, Global Solutions Leader, MasterCard SpendingPulse. “Analyzing historical calendar patterns, the tail end of the season is in better position to post a large rally in sales. In 2011, the timing of Super Saturday was not ideal as it landed on Christmas Eve and generated about $12 billion in sales. Based on historical daily patterns, this year retailers should get the benefit of a full Saturday of sales that could rival Black Friday sales levels north of $18 billion.

Level Setting Black Friday Spending

OMasterCard SpendingPulse estimated that $18.9 billion was spent on Black Friday this year, a year-over-year decline of 4.9 percent. However, on Thanksgiving Thursday, $6.2 billion was spent, a much smaller number, but representing a 23 percent growth rate. When Thursday and Friday are taken together, there was a 2.1 percent year-over-year growth over the same two days last year. For the four days of Thanksgiving weekend taken together, there was a 2.9 percent growth rate, $50.2 billion vs. $48.8 billion last year. The Specialty Apparel sector did relatively well during this period, growing 3.1 percent on Black Friday and approximately 15 percent on Thanksgiving Thursday, albeit off a smaller base.

The Stretch Run

In 2011, the final 10 days before Christmas generated almost $147 billion in retail sales volume. This accounted for almost 24 percent of the holiday shopping season (defined as the 50 days before Christmas). This late season concentration of sales is even more pronounced in the Jewelry and Luxury retail segments. Between the unusual weather and calendar shifts in 2012, the stretch run could be even more important for retailers looking for a positive season.

About MasterCard SpendingPulse
A macro-economic indicator, MasterCard SpendingPulse reports on national retail sales and is based on aggregate sales activity in the MasterCard payments network, coupled with estimates for all other payment forms, including cash and check. MasterCard SpendingPulse does not represent MasterCard financial performance. SpendingPulse is provided by MasterCard Advisors, the professional services arm of MasterCard Worldwide.

About MasterCard Advisors
As the professional services arm of MasterCard Worldwide, MasterCard Advisors is uniquely qualified to provide clients with insights and solutions that drive tangible impact and financial gain. MasterCard Advisors provides payments consulting, information, analytics, and customized services that deliver value to its customers. In doing so, the company uses information to create products and services in which privacy and security are fundamental to their design. A technology company that is an electronic payments leader, MasterCard is committed to the responsible use of information and pledges strong privacy protection for the transaction data the company processes. Its information management practices support the company’s mission to make payments safe, simple and smart. For more information, go to

About MasterCard
MasterCard (NYSE: MA),, is a global payments and technology company. It operates the world's fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard's products and solutions make everyday commerce activities -- such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances -- easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MasterCardNews, join the discussion on the Cashless Conversations Blog and subscribe for the latest news.

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