First Data Corporation, a leader in payment technology and services solutions, released its First Data SpendTrend analysis for April 1–30, 2014, compared to April 2­–May 1, 2013.  SpendTrend tracks same-store point-of-sale data by credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT, closed-loop prepaid cards, and checks from nearly four million merchant locations serviced by First Data.

Spending growth of 4.1 percent gained momentum versus last month’s growth of 3.1 percent, driven by warmer weather as well as the Easter shift into April this year, which supported shopper foot traffic. Transaction growth of 3.5 percent was up compared to March’s 2.7 percent growth. Higher gas prices, an uptick in job creation and a lift in consumer confidence also supported the growth. Gas station spending growth of 3.3 percent marked the highest growth since July, 2013 as gas prices eclipsed last year’s levels.

Retail spending growth and transaction growth of 1.3 percent and 2.4 percent gained traction versus March’s growth of -0.5 percent and -1.2 percent as the Easter shift pushed holiday retail purchases and related foot traffic into April. Spending growth at clothing and accessories stores and health and personal care stores of 1.2 percent and 0.2 percent spiked versus last month’s growth of -5.0 percent and -2.4 percent as shoppers visited these merchants for candy, Easter-themed toys and spring apparel.  Dollar volume growth of 3.6 percent at building material and supply stores slowed slightly from last month’s growth of 4.3 percent but remained healthy as higher temperatures encouraged spending on garden, home construction, and outdoor items.

Average ticket growth of 0.5 percent was up vs. March’s growth of 0.3 percent, the strongest growth in the past 12 months, driven by an increase in gas and food costs. Gas station average ticket growth was 0.4 percent versus -4.1 percent last month, the highest growth in nine months. Average ticket growth of 1.8 percent was seen in food and beverage stores, the highest growth in over a year.

“Overall spending growth was strong and gained momentum over March as the Easter shift into April and the return of warmer weather encouraged consumers to get out and shop,” says Krish Mantripragada, SVP of information and analytics solutions for First Data. “Consumer confidence and job creation also bounced back, which put consumers in the mood to release their pent-up demand from the extended winter. We also saw debit spending growth continue to rise, due in large part to higher tax refund values and volumes through April.”