Press Release


Smaller Retailer Growth Falls to Lowest Level Since October 2010

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January 15, 2013

A SpendingPulse™ report released today by MasterCard Advisors, the professional services arm of MasterCard (NYSE:MA), in partnership with Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), America's leading small business lender, found that spending at small retailers in December fell to its lowest growth rate since October 2010, registering a 3.8 percent year-over-year increase. At this level, smaller retailers surpassed overall retail sales by 1.4 percentage points, and maintained a year-to-date advantage over total U.S. retail sales—overall sales were up 5.0 percent in December year-over-year compared to smaller retail sales, which are up 6.8 percent from the prior year.

The December report also found that when gasoline sales are removed, the year-over-year sales growth rate improved by 0.7 of a percentage point, to +4.5 percent compared to December 2011. This difference in growth rates (with and without gasoline) is a less than it was last month. Michael McNamara, Global Solutions Leader, MasterCard SpendingPulse said, "Since the high point occurring in February 2012, the growth rates for small retail have been declining every month. After the Great Recession, it took smaller retailers a longer time to recover than the big chains, and we finally saw some stronger growth for them in 2011. Therefore, much of this present difficulty is attributable to difficult comparisons with 2011."

Marc Bernstein, head of Small Business for Wells Fargo said, "The economy has been recovering in fits and starts, and it shows in small retailer sales growth numbers. When you step back and look at the big picture, small businesses are operating in a much better environment today than two years ago. Yet recent data seems to indicate that retailers faced stronger headwinds at the end of 2012 and it remains unclear how ongoing uncertainty in Washington will impact small businesses heading into 2013."

About MasterCard SpendingPulse for Small Business
Launched in July, 2012, the monthly report MasterCard SpendingPulse for Small Business, looks at retailers with less than $35 million in annual sales and less than 200 employees, a small percentage of which have more than $10 million in annual sales. Each report includes information about current retail sales (excluding autos and gasoline), year-over-year growth in total retail sales (excluding automotive sales), as well as views with and without food services. In the U.S., small retailers account for over $100 billion in retail sales excluding automobiles per month.

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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