Easter purchases prove to be a sweet treat for retailers
TORONTO, ON – April 19, 2018 – Canadian consumers rang up purchases in the first quarter of 2018, according to the MonerisMetrics Quarterly Report released by Moneris Solutions Corporation (“Moneris”), one of Canada’s largest processors of debit and credit payments. Unlike previous years, January was the strongest month for the first quarter in 2018, with spend in Canada up 6.04 per cent over the same month last year. February and March also saw year-over-year growth with an increase of 3.81 per cent and 4.81 per cent respectively, bringing the quarter’s average to a 4.99 per cent increase over 2017.
All provinces, with the exception of Saskatchewan, which was down by 0.90 per cent, saw a rise in spend over last year during the same period. British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario saw the biggest jumps, with year-over-year increases of 6.57 per cent, 6.41 per cent and 5.54 per cent, respectively. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were not far behind with increases of 4.74 per cent and 3.37 per cent, respectively.
“Overall, the growth for the quarter was positive, and reflects the slow but steady increases we’ve come to expect based on the last several quarters,” said Angela Brown, President and CEO of Moneris. “While we will likely continue to see incremental year over year growth in 2018, we do anticipate it will slowly start to taper off over the coming quarters.
Data from Statistics Canada reflects these findings. Both average weekly earnings and retail sales were higher in the month of January than in the same month in 2017; however, Canada’s GDP dipped slightly compared with last year.
Sweet celebrations boost sales
The lead up to Easter fell in the first quarter this year, which aided in a spending boost to merchants that sell chocolate, sweets and cards. Drug stores and mass merchandisers posted increases of 9.13 per cent and 11.55 per cent respectively in the month of March. Bakeries had sales increases of 16.15 per cent in the month of March, compared to March 2017. And, although Easter Sunday fell in April, grocery stores benefitted from consumers stocking up on supplies to prepare for the long weekend in March, with an 8.13 per cent increase over the same month last year.
The entire quarter also saw a rise in spend at restaurants, with a year-over-year increase of 3.73 per cent in the category overall, and a 7.19 per cent spend increase in the fast food category. Other categories posting strong increases this quarter included theatrical producers (up 13.82 per cent), accountants and auditors (up 9.93 per cent), health and beauty spas (up 7.97 per cent) and book stores (up 6.43 per cent).
Contactless usage continues to rise
While both credit card and debit card usage grew over the same time in 2017, the growth was weighted more heavily towards credit cards with an increase of 5.80 per cent compared with debit cards, which increased by 3.50 per cent. For both types of cards, contactless solutions experienced growth in both volume – up 37.34 per cent – and transactions – up 33.09 per cent – when compared to the first quarter last year.
Foreign spend gains strengths
Visitors to Canada spent more this year than during the same period in 2017. Spending on U.S. cards maintained the top spot for foreign spend, showing a 16.28 per cent increase over last year’s first quarter. Spend from visitors from China, the United Kingdom and Mexico were also up over last year with increases of 13.54 per cent, 21.12 per cent, and 51.48 per cent respectively.
MonerisMetrics is an insightful Canadian spending indicator powered by Moneris. It provides information on spending activity in Canada across a range of categories by analyzing credit and debit card transaction data. The percentages cited are derived from actual sales volumes — the dollar values of credit and debit card transactions being processed by Moneris merchants — compared with sales volumes from the prior year.
Moneris is Canada’s largest provider of innovative solutions for mobile, online and in-store payments, processing more than one in three transactions. Serving businesses of every size and industry, Moneris offers hardware, software and solutions to help transform the way businesses grow and operate, in payments and beyond.
 Statistics Canada, Gross domestic product by industry, January 2018