An early Easter holiday, lower gas prices and incoming tax refunds boosted consumer spending this March compared to the same period last year.
Payment processor First Data, with operations in Omaha, reported in its monthly SpendTrend analysis that year-over-year dollar volume increased 6 percent in March, up from 4.6 percent growth in February. The company said the growth is notable because March 2012 also saw high growth, of 8.7 percent, due to mild weather.
Retailers specifically saw 3.9 percent dollar volume growth year-over-year in March, up from 2.5 percent in February.
People spent more per shopping trip, too, with the average ticket amount up 1.8 percent. First Data said shoppers were more likely to buy higher-priced items like furniture, electronics and appliances.
“Consumer spending growth bounced back in March despite increased payroll taxes and other headwinds facing consumers, as well as a very challenging comparable with the growth rates from Q1 last year,” said First Data economist Rikard Bandebo.
“The earlier Easter holiday, reduced personal savings and the delay in tax refunds from February appeared to provide a catalyst for the consumer spending growth this March. Looking forward, sustained consumer-spending growth remains in the balance as consumers are reducing their savings and are shifting more spending onto credit cards.”