Over the past few weeks, we’ve been busy incorporating some new transaction data into the data panel behind the FIRST Reports. We’ve added some new cards, expanding both the number of transactions, as well as the breadth of coverage across the U.S. and within demographic segments. As such, you will notice some differences in the FIRST Reports going forward, compared to historical reports. To help minimize outlier transactions and to account for the additional number of cards, we’ve updated our data normalization methodology. While the directional trends to prior reports will be similar, you will notice a difference in the absolute % numbers when comparing historical data with this new and expanded data set. The Daily Consumer Spending Index will return in next week’s FIRST Report.
The FIRST Report is a series of weekly reports that will shed light on the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on the consumer economy in the US. We plan to look at three super categories of the consumer economy: Retail, Entertainment and Travel. Focusing on both sectors and individual merchants, we will provide insight into how consumers are being impacted and how they are reacting in this unprecedented time. Our intent is to help businesses, governments, and economists have a current, accurate view of the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic so that they can make informed and timely decisions.
We are re-launching our FIRST report after a short hiatus. The re-launch incorporates a large increase in transacting cards, and a refining of our indexing methodology to account for the type of cards included and the increase. While the trends over the course of the year are the same, the numbers seen in the report are not directly comparable to numbers seen in archived versions of the report. However, we have applied our new methodology to historical numbers in the charts included here. For the week ending Dec 6, consumer spending in our panel fell 13% year over year, an eight-percentage point improvement from the prior week, which suffered from tough year over year comparisons as many retail establishments and restaurants were closed on Thanksgiving Day. The stand-out categories continue to be Wholesale Clubs, Home Supply Stores, and Video Games.
Aggregate spending in the Retail segment grew 14% year over year, up sharply from the 1% growth rate seen in the prior week. Wholesale Clubs grew 34%, up from 18% the week prior, and Discount Stores grew 21% year over year, up from 10% the week prior. The biggest improvement came in the Department Store category, which improved 19 percentage points week over week, and moved into positive territory. The big dip seen in Walmart in the prior week was driven by the company’s decision to close on Thanksgiving Day this year.
The aggregate Entertainment segment fell 15% year over year, up from the 24% decline seen in the prior week. Fast Food restaurants grew 10% while the overall Restaurant category declined 13% year over year. Video Games continue to be the strongest category in Entertainment, growing 31% year over year, a significant spike from the 5% growth in posted in the week prior.
The aggregate Travel segment fell 45% year over year, slightly better than the rate of decline seen the prior week. The Air Travel category fell 59% year over year which was unchanged from the prior week. The Lodging category fell 6% year over year, eight percentage points better than the prior week.