Travel Spending Sees Strong First Quarter Growth

Spending is showing healthy signs of growth so far this year, particularly when it comes to travel, according to a new report from global payments technology company First Data. The company analyzed real transactions at 1.3 million eCommerce and in-store merchant locations across the United States and, among their findings, showed that travel spending grew 8 percent year-over-year (YOY).

Breaking down the growth in travel and leisure spending, the report found that steamships and cruise lines showed the most growth in spending among travel categories (11.6 percent YOY) followed by amusement parks (10.3 percent YOY), travel agencies (9.8 percent YOY), and toll and bridge fares (9.8 percent YOY). Restaurants and hotels showed slightly less growth but still improved year-over-year, at 2.9 percent and 1.4 percent spending growth, respectively.

The increase in travel spending since last year is part of an overall growth in spending across retail and non-retail categories in Q1 2018. The 4.8 percent YOY spending growth across all categories is the highest in the last four quarters. Non-retail spend categories such as services (8 percent) and gasoline (8.9 percent) also helped drive the increase. Retail spending was up 1.6 percent YOY in Q1, in line with the last quarter of 2017. Total spending across brick and mortar businesses grew 3.2 percent YOY while eCommerce spending (including retail and non-retail categories) saw stronger 8.7 percent YOY growth, and accounted for 31 percent of all spend in the first quarter.


Quick service restaurants (QSRs) saw strong growth in 2017 and the trend has continued into 2018 with 6.8 percent YOY spending growth. Conversely, upscale dining struggled significantly during the last three quarters, with overall spending grow dropping by 1.7 percent YOY in the first quarter. Casual (1.2 percent), family (2 percent), and fast casual dining (1.5 percent) saw more modest growth.