April 20, 2017

Canadian spending up 3.46 per cent in the first quarter of 2017

Trend of modest growth continues as contactless payments enter the mainstream

TORONTO -- Spending in Canada grew by 3.46 per cent in the first quarter of 2017 on a year-over-year basis, according to the MonerisMetrics Quarterly Report released by Moneris Solutions Corporation. While overall spending is up, the quarter's results continue a trend of gradually slowing growth, suggesting that 2017 may be a year of moderate spending when compared to 2015 and 2016.

"As anticipated, spend rates are continuing to climb, but at a more modest level than in previous quarters," said Angela Brown, president and CEO of Moneris. "Given global transitions in government that could impact the economy at home, it's no surprise that Canadians are keeping an eye on how they're spending. We don't expect to see any drastic deviations from this trend over the next few quarters."

March was the strongest month of the quarter, demonstrating growth of 4.44 per cent over the same month last year. January posted 3.68 per cent growth year over year, while spending in February was on par with 2016, at only 0.47 per cent growth. This modest rise in spending is in line with other recent economic indicators, with Statistics Canada posting slight increases in GDP, average weekly earnings and retail sales, all during the January time period.

From a regional perspective, Quebec and New Brunswick led the country's spending growth, with increases of 5.49 per cent and 4.59 per cent respectively. British Columbia and Ontario also posted stronger than average growth, with increases of 4.26 per cent and 4.18 per cent respectively. By contrast, Alberta and Newfoundland continued regional trends of negative growth—spending in Alberta was down 0.72 per cent, and spending in Newfoundland was down 1.68 per cent.

Credit cards continued to dominate the share of spending in the first quarter, representing 64.8 per cent of transactions, with debit cards representing the remaining 35.2 per cent of transactions. Spending on credit cards increased by 4.85 per cent over the first quarter of 2016, while spending on debit cards increased by a slightly smaller volume, at 0.98 per cent.

Contactless payments enter the Canadian mainstream

2017 has seen continued growth in the use of contactless payments by Canadians. The volume of "tapped" dollars increased by 62.17 per cent during the quarter, while the total number of contactless transactions increased by 51.43 per cent over the same period in 2016. The 62.17 per cent increase in contactless dollar volume signifies a notable change in growth patterns when compared to previous quarters that have seen triple digit growth in this area.

"As contactless payments have grown exponentially over the last two years, this quarter's slowing growth suggests that tap-and-pay methods have finally begun to enter the Canadian mainstream," said Brown. "As more Canadians reach a level of comfort with these options, and more mobile wallet solutions enter the marketplace, we'll see contactless numbers continue to grow at a more regular pace over the next few quarters."

Contactless transactions accounted for 38.03 per cent of all transactions made during the quarter, compared to 27.14 per cent during the same period in 2016.



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