In the last quarter of 2018, spending in Newfoundland and Labrador dropped 3.2 per cent over the same period of 2017, according to Moneris Solutions Corp., Canada’s largest processor of debit and credit payments.
It comes in contrast to the Canadian average of a three per cent increase for the final quarter of last year.
The national increase in the fourth quarter, however, marks the lowest for 2018 and the lowest quarterly growth in four years.
“Every quarter of 2018 saw an increase in spend (nationally), but the increases overall were more tempered than in years past,” said Angela Brown, President and CEO of Moneris. "This is a trend we expect to continue throughout 2019, with spending to be cautious and growth to be moderate.”
Saskatchewan with a 4.5 per cent drop in spending for the fourth quarter, and New Brunswick with a 1.1 per cent drop, joined Newfoundland and Labrador on the downside.
Quebec and British Columbia saw above average increases of 5.4 per cent and 4.1 per cent in spend when compared to the last three months of 2017. Ontario came in close to the national average with a 3.3 per cent increase in spending over the same period in 2017.
A news release notes that while moderate, the figures announced by Moneris demonstrate stronger growth than those recently posted by Statistics Canada. Both Canada’s GDP and retail sales rose by 0.3 per cent October over the previous month. Retail sales decreased 0.9 per cent in November on account of lower sales at gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers.
Despite a busy holiday shopping season, October saw the largest spend increase in the quarter, with spend up 5.2 per cent, as compared to November (up 3.8 per cent) and December (up 1.6 per cent). The traditional shopping days of Black Friday, Boxing Day, and the final Friday before Christmas all saw year-over-year increases.
Black Friday was the season’s biggest day in terms of volume with an increase of 6.0 per cent over last year; however, Dec. 21, the final Friday before Christmas, was the busiest in terms of number of transactions. This year, the Saturday before Christmas – Dec. 22 – took the No. 3 spot in terms of dollars spent, while Boxing Day dropped to fourth, but still showed a volume increase of 5.57 per cent over the same period in 2017.
The release also noted that contactless payments continue to surge — contactless spending in Newfoundland was up 33.2 per cent year-over-year — and the total share of contactless transactions to 47.8 per cent, the highest it’s been since being introduced in Canada