First Data Corporation, a global leader in electronic commerce and payment processing, today released its First Data SpendTrend analysis for the full month of February 2010 compared to February 2009. SpendTrend tracks same-store consumer spending via credit, signature debit, PIN debit and EBT cards at U.S. merchant locations.

Despite severe winter weather in several key metropolitan areas, same-store dollar volume was up 8.4 percent (7.4 percent excluding gasoline stations) with employment showing signs of stabilization. Average tickets were up 1.4 percent, the first year-over-year increase since July 2008.

As consumers spent more and saved less during the month, their discretionary purchases increased at general merchandise stores including value retailers. Same-store dollar volume growth for retail merchants overall increased to 8 percent in February, up from 5.4 percent in January, representing the highest monthly growth rate in more than two years.

Same-store transaction growth for February 2010 slowed to 6.9 percent over February 2009, down from January’s rate of 7.9 percent, also as a result of severe weather. The lower transaction growth at gasoline stations and food and beverage stores, particularly in the second week of February, contributed significantly to the reduced growth month-over-month. However, all industries had positive transaction growth compared to February 2009.

EBT transaction growth slowed to 11.8 percent in February. Reduced EBT transaction growth was driven by lower government disbursements resulting from a stabilizing employment situation and expiration of certain benefits. February 2010 also marked the anniversary of certain large merchants’ first acceptance of EBT cards, which reduced year-over-year growth rates.

Finance, News