The Green Sheet Online Edition
November 22, 2010 • Issue 10:11:02
It's more than a numbers game
Like many in the payments industry, you've probably been in high gear for a while now ramping up for the year-end holiday season by helping your merchants prepare for an influx of shoppers, making sure their software is up to date, checking the status of POS equipment and supplies, reinvigorating your help desk staff and doing everything else possible to ensure the season goes smoothly.
We all have high hopes that, despite economic challenges, people will be imbued with the holiday spirit and go forth amid tinsel-, garland- and ornament-festooned stores, markets and seasonal fairs to seek gifts that will convey their unique appreciation for family and friends who bring meaning to their lives throughout the year.
Looking at the data
We pay close attention to holiday spending data year to year, of course, because more sales and larger transaction amounts mean more prosperity for our merchant customers and for us. And what happens during the closing months of the year can affect, not just the following year, but many a merchant's entire future.
Here are just a few findings from recent economic studies:
- In its third quarter 2010 Small Business Credit Sales Report, Capital Access Networks Inc. stated that same-store credit and signature debit cards sales for small businesses dropped 5.06 percent from third quarter 2009 levels. However, the rate of decline decreased dramatically from the 14.84 percent drop for the same period, 2008 to 2009.
- According to the Electronic Transactions Association's U.S. Economic Indicators Q3 2010 Report, compiled by The Strawhecker Group, total retail sales were up 7.34 percent in the third quarter 2010, compared to the same period in 2009.
- The latest Western Union Payments Money Mindset Index revealed that 94 percent of consumers surveyed will spend the same or less on holiday gifts this year, and most will spend between $200 and $500.
Looking into our hearts
So what do these bits of data mean? None of us can predict what the last weeks of 2010 will bring. But there is a very good chance the worst is now behind us. What we can do is remember that this profession we share is more than a living. It is an opportunity to do our very best for our clients, our communities, our families and ourselves, especially at this time of year, when some have lavish gifts to offer while others can offer only their good cheer. Let's endeavor to prize them all.
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