2017 Holiday Spending Season to See Strong Growth, Finds ETA and The Strawhecker Group 2017 Holiday Spending Report Card

Washington, D.C., November 22, 2017 – The Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) and The Strawhecker Group (TSG) today released their 2017 Holiday Spending Report Card that indicates an extremely healthy holiday shopping season. The report analyzes same store sales from over 3.5 million card accepting U.S. merchants to project year-over-year growth. Holiday season sales will be driven primarily from strength in the Northeast region, and growth nationally at hotels, restaurants, shoe stores and building material stores.

“Low unemployment, coupled with consumer confidence near a 17-year high, is bolstering an already healthy economy,” stated Jared Drieling, Director of Business Intelligence of TSG. “Coming into this holiday season, shoppers have seen an increase in personal income – especially disposable income – which is helping build off of a 2016 holiday season that was one of the best in years.”

Holiday Shopping Season Continues to Shift Earlier
The holiday season no longer begins the day after Thanksgiving. In 2017, big-box retailers began to aggressive push holiday promotions in early November, expanding traditional Black Friday deals into the first part of the month. Consumers are following retailers lead and conducting much of their holiday shopping in November, building on the tremendous growth from the previous year (3.9 percent growth in 2017 and 6.5 percent growth in 2016).

Sales Growth Seen Outside of Traditional Holiday Retailers
While overall year-over-year spending during the season is projected to grow, not all retailers will benefit. Sales from non-traditional leisure retailers will be the big winners, indicating a rise in experiences rather than goods.

“Shoppers are coming to stores willing to spend this holiday season. Two of the big trends for 2017 holiday spending are the rise of experiences and an earlier start to the holiday shopping season,” said Jason Oxman, CEO of ETA. “Holiday shoppers aren’t spending only at traditional retailers, but are spending more on restaurants and hotels. The 2017 holiday season inches earlier into the year as big box retailers start ‘Black Friday’ deals as early as November 1.”

Spending at restaurants/eating places (up 3.8 percent in November and 3.6 percent in December) and hotels/lodging (up 4.3 percent in November and 4.2 percent in December) are the top winners in national sales year-over-year growth this season. Promising growth from shoe stores (up 12.7 percent in November and 10.1 percent in December) and lumber and building material stores (up 10.7 percent in November and 10.2 percent in December) will contribute to overall spending growth.

Big box retailers are impacting sales at vertical retailers of traditional holiday gifts as consumers use general merchandise stores as one-stop-shops for all their purchases. Sporting goods (-6.3 percent in November and -4.6 percent in December) and jewelry stores (zero growth in November and -3.2 percent in December) will experience declining or little year-over-year growth.

Strong Sales in the Northeast Contribute to Robust Growth
Retailers in the Northeast expect to see the strongest year-over-year growth (November 6.4 percent and December 5.3 percent) while the Southwest trails behind (-0.3 percent November and 0.4 percent December).

For more information on holiday spending trends, or to interview an expert on retail spending trends, please contact Laura Hubbard at 202-677-7406 or lhubbard@electran.org.


TSG used predictive modeling to relatively “grade” estimated credit/debit same store sales during the holiday season. The data leveraged is sourced from TSG’s data warehouse of over 3.5 million card-accepting merchants in the U.S. and the modeling utilized 57 consecutive months of spending by merchant type (MCC code).

About ETA
The Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) is the leading trade association for the payments industry, representing nearly 550 companies worldwide involved in electronic transaction processing products and services. The purpose of ETA is to influence, monitor and shape the payments industry by providing leadership through education, advocacy and the exchange of information.

About TSG
The Strawhecker Group (TSG) is a fast-growing analytics and consulting firm focused on the electronic payments industry. The company serves the entire payments ecosystem, from fintech startups to Fortune 500 companies. The firm provides its clients with advisory services, research and analytics to help them plan and execute their strategic initiatives. Based in Omaha, a recognized payments industry hub, TSG is an established leader in this high-growth, ever-evolving space.

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