Pandemic Drives Dramatic Card Transaction Shifts


As a part of this article, Suchit Shah, COO of CU Rise Analytics sheds light on how and when consumers spent their money during the pandemic months.

In April, as the pandemic took hold, total credit card spending dropped nearly 33% over April 2019, said Suchit Shah, COO for CU Rise Analytics, a data management CUSO based in Vienna, Va. Debit spending dropped by nearly 20%, he said, as many consumers just stopped spending and elected instead to pay off debts.

Grocery store and wholesale club spending was a notable ­exception, he said. “This was the time when all the racks were empty. People were stocking up … overall spending was down, but people were spending more on groceries.”

In May and June, consumers began spending more on home improvement projects, furnishings, and gardening, he said. Beginning in May, people began receiving federal stimulus payments. After paying off credit balances and curtailing spending, they found they still had money, Shah said. In June and July, consumer spending recovered and was on par with 2019 pre-holiday spending levels, he said.

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