Total U.S. retail sales, excluding automotive, up 8.8% year-over-year in April, stronger than March's growth rate and previous quarter's average of 7.1%, SpendingPulse says

PURCHASE, New York , May 16, 2011 () – A macroeconomic indicator, SpendingPulse reports on national retail and services sales and is based on aggregate sales activity in the MasterCard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for all other payment forms, including cash and check. MasterCard SpendingPulse does not represent MasterCard financial performance. SpendingPulse is provided by MasterCard Advisors, the professional services arm of MasterCard Worldwide.

MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse, a macroeconomic report tracking national retail and service sales, today provided summary results for April 2011. Excluding auto sales, total retail sales grew by 8.8% year-over-year, stronger than March’s growth rate, and substantially higher than the average 7.1% year-to-year growth rate of the previous quarter. Spending on gasoline has helped drive overall sales figures to some extent, but retail sales ex-gasoline show few signs of abating.

While seasonally adjusted retail sales fell in April by 0.1% month-to-month, this may be more of an indication of fluctuating gas prices than the overall state of retail spend. Seasonally adjusted retail sales excluding both autos and gasoline were up by 1.4% in April, the fourth straight month of growth.

Kamalesh Rao, Director of Economic Research for MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, noted: “We have not seen this sort of sustained growth in retail sales since late 2005/early 2006, when the economy was in much better shape and the unemployment rate was more than 4% below its current level. Today, the general state of the labor market and a mixed economic environment suggests that the current rate of retail expansion could be vulnerable, especially given the weight of higher fuel costs on discretionary spending. Additional momentum in the labor market could offset that uncertainty.”

Sectors showing positive results in April included eCommerce, Luxury, Apparel, Groceries and Travel, both in the Airlines and Lodging categories. Weaker segments included Furniture and Furnishings, Hardware, Electronics and Department Stores.

Spending grew in every part of the country, with the best unadjusted year-over-year results in the Pacific and Southwest regions, respectively posting 13.2% and 12.2% growth.

About MasterCard Advisors

MasterCard Advisors provides payments consulting, information, analytics, and customized services to financial institutions, merchants and businesses worldwide. Addressing complex challenges in strategy, marketing, risk, and operations, MasterCard Advisors helps clients maximize the value of their payments businesses. As the professional services arm of MasterCard Worldwide, MasterCard Advisors is uniquely qualified to provide clients with insights and solutions that drive tangible impact and financial gain.

About MasterCard Worldwide

As a leading global payments company, MasterCard Worldwide prides itself on being at the heart of commerce, helping to make life easier and more efficient for everyone, everywhere. MasterCard serves as a franchisor, processor and advisor to the payments industry, and makes commerce happen by providing a critical economic link among financial institutions, governments, businesses, merchants, and cardholders worldwide. In 2010, $2.7 trillion in gross dollar volume was generated on its products by consumers around the world. Powered by the MasterCard Worldwide Network – the fastest payment processing network in the world – MasterCard processes over 23 billion transactions each year and has the capacity to handle 160 million transactions per hour, with an average network response time of 130 milliseconds and with 99.99 percent reliability. MasterCard advances global commerce through its family of brands, including MasterCard®, Maestro®, and Cirrus®; its suite of core products such as credit, debit, and prepaid; and its innovative platforms and functionalities, such as MasterCard PayPass™ and MasterCard inControl®. MasterCard serves consumers, governments, and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories.

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