CO-OP, Saylent: Back-to-school spending strong

September 5, 2014

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif., and FRANKLIN, Mass. (9/8/14)--An increase in shoppers helped boost back-to-school spending in August by 9.2% compared with previous-year data, according to an analysis of debit card transactions by CO-OP Financial Services and Saylent.

The analysis covered 25 merchant types. Merchants offering computer software, stores selling elementary/secondary school supplies and bookstores were particularly busy leading up to Labor Day, CO-OP and Saylent said.

"An increase in the number of transactions--up 7.9%--holds the key to the 9.2% spending increase," said Stan Hollen, president/CEO of CO-OP. "The amount-per-transaction rose only 1%--$50.72 in 2014 from $50.12 in 2013. So, credit union members were individually spending about the same amount, but there were more members making back-to-school purchases this year."

This analysis of sales is based on transactions made during August, with results covering debit card activity nationwide by members of credit unions that use CO-OP for transaction processing.

Among the highlights of the data:

  • Total spending at the selected back-to-school merchant categories for August was $715.2 million compared with $654.9 million in August 2013. The total number of transactions recorded in 2014 was 14.1 million vs. 13.067 million in 2013, a 7.9% increase;
  • Computer software was the merchant category with the biggest jump in 2014 compared with 2013, with spending up 44.3% and transaction volume up 48.5%;
  • Elementary/secondary school supply stores achieved a spending increase of 29.3% and a transaction increase of 39.7%;
  • Bookstores realized a 20.1% increase in spending and a 24.1% increase in transactions;
  • Telecom spending rose 16.5% and transactions increased by 15.5%; and
  • Department and stationery stores are the only groups in which spending and transaction volume dropped in 2014 compared with the previous year.