PSCU Reports Significant Holiday Season Growth for Owner Credit Unions


Dramatically different consumer behaviors drive continued acceleration of contactless and digital payment methods

St. Petersburg, Fla. — (Jan. 14, 2021) — PSCU, the nation’s premier payments credit union service organization (CUSO), today reported year-over-year debit and credit overall same-store sales volume growth of 11.4% among its Owner credit unions during the 2020 holiday season. Within the Retail Goods sector, purchases over the cumulative reported eight-week holiday period (Nov. 2 through Dec. 27) among PSCU Owner credit unions were up 18.1% for credit and 26.2% for debit, substantially outpacing the market rate of 3.6% to 5.2% forecasted by the National Retail Federation (NRF).

“This year’s holiday shopping season was dramatically different from prior years as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact and shift consumer behavior,” said Glynn Frechette, senior vice president, Advisors Plus at PSCU. “More consumers shopped earlier and from home, further accelerating the adoption of contactless and digital payment methods. Despite these changing market dynamics, we are pleased with the strong performance of our Owner credit unions over the holiday period and remain committed to helping them successfully navigate the evolving pandemic environment and associated market conditions.” 

To calculate 2020 holiday data, PSCU’s Data & Analytics and Advisors Plus teams compiled and analyzed information from credit unions that leveraged the CUSO for debit and/or credit processing during both the 2020 and 2019 holiday shopping periods, comparing year-over-year data from the two periods. PSCU’s key observations from the cumulative reported eight-week holiday period (Nov. 2 through Dec. 27) included:

  • Consumers purchased earlier and planned ahead. Holiday purchases occurred much earlier in November than in previous years, as retailers promoted “Black Friday” sales in early November to combat market uncertainty during the pandemic. The two weeks preceding Thanksgiving (Nov. 9 through Nov. 22) yielded the strongest year-over-year increases in purchase growth for credit (+27.4%) and debit (+34.6%). Also notable was the diminished impact of Thanksgiving week (week ending Nov. 29, including Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday), which finished with purchases up 11.4% for credit and 16.6% for debit. The week ending Dec. 20 had the lowest year-over-year growth in purchases for both credit (+9.7%) and debit (+15.1%) for this year’s holiday period.
  • Card Not Present (CNP) growth continued to surge. Goods, one of the sectors most positively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, saw increased CNP activity, as more consumers did their holiday shopping online than in physical stores. CNP purchases within the Goods sector (as a percentage of all Goods purchases) over the eight-week cumulative reported holiday period were 55.8% for credit, up 10.3 percentage points, and 38.7% for debit, up 8.0 percentage points.
  • Consumer behavior and merchant acceptance drove continued adoption of contactless and digital payment methods. Growth in adoption of contactless “tap-and-go” transactions via dual interface cards continued throughout the 2020 holiday season. From the start of November to the end of December in all sectors, debit contactless transactions, as a percent of card present activity on contactless debit cards, grew to 17.1%, while contactless credit transactions grew to 12.1% of card present activity on contactless credit cards. Mobile wallet (i.e. “Pays”) transactions and purchases for both credit and debit cards continue to show strong growth with Card Present activity. For the eight-week holiday season, debit mobile wallet purchases were up 62% and credit mobile wallet purchases were up 46% year over year.
  • Amazon and Home Supply companies were big winners. Within the Goods sector, Amazon (across all merchant categories) and Home Supply companies (including Home Depot and Lowe’s) have performed well throughout the pandemic and the holiday period was no exception, as they were the top two performers. Amazon was up 39.8% for credit and 59.1% for debit year over year in the holiday period, while Home Supply was up 33.1% for credit and 42.8% for debit. Other strong performers were Digital Goods (apps, games, video, music, etc.), Home (from furnishings to landscaping and pools), Other Vehicles (boats, motorcycles and RVs) and Electronics. Weaker performers in the Goods sector include Clothing and Department & General Merchandise Stores, which remained consistent with weak performance throughout the pandemic period.
  • The Southeast and Plains regions outperformed others. In reviewing regional U.S. performance for the eight-week holiday period, the Southeast and the Plains regions outperformed all other regions for overall credit and debit purchases. The New England, Hawaii, Far West, Rocky Mountain, Southwest, Great Lakes and Mid-East regions were all at or below the U.S. average for the period. PSCU will explore these regional trends in the Deeper Dive section of its next transaction trend report, scheduled for Jan. 19.

The 2020 holiday season results were aligned with PSCU’s findings from its 2020 Eye on Payments study, which showed a notable year-over-year increase in respondents who reported having a contactless card, an increase in consumers likely to use mobile wallets and a continued preference for debit across all demographics for the second straight year.

“PSCU’s robust data warehouse provides accurate, real-time data and analysis for our Owner credit unions,” said Jeff Carelli, senior vice president, Data & Analytics at PSCU. “These capabilities, along with our industry-leading suite of advanced analytics tools, Member Insight, enable our credit unions to easily access their own member data and compare their performance against the broader market, tailor their programs and solution offerings for the needs of their members, and make strategic decisions to help drive growth and better serve their members.”

About Advisors Plus

Founded in 2004, PSCU’s Advisors Plus offers consulting services for credit unions to help fuel growth and achieve financial and business goals. From project analysis to implementation and management, Advisors Plus offers an end-to-end portfolio of consulting services including business strategy, business and affinity cards, credit and debit cards, contact center optimization, risk and collections analysis, branch sales training, marketing services, and B2C campaign execution. Whether your credit union is looking to expand its offerings, build a legacy of community involvement, create the strongest possible capital footing—or all of the above—Advisors Plus consultants bring the strategic vision, deep industry expertise, and proprietary data analytics needed to help credit unions better serve their members and their communities. For more information, visit

About PSCU

PSCU, the nation’s premier payments CUSO, supports the success of 1,500 credit unions representing more than 5.4 billion transactions annually. Committed to service excellence and focused on innovation, PSCU’s payment processing, risk management, data and analytics, loyalty programs, digital banking, marketing, strategic consulting and mobile platforms help deliver possibilities and seamless member experiences. Comprehensive, 24/7/365 member support is provided by contact centers located throughout the United States. The origin of PSCU’s model is collaboration and scale, and the company has leveraged its influence on behalf of credit unions and their members for more than 40 years. Today, PSCU provides an end-to-end, competitive advantage that enables credit unions to securely grow and meet evolving consumer demands. For more information, visit

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