Magazine article American Banker

MC Touts Sales DataService as Better Than Government's

Magazine article American Banker

MC Touts Sales DataService as Better Than Government's

Article excerpt

MasterCard Advisors LLC says its new service will provide more timely and accurate national retail sales figures than those from the Department of Commerce.

The professional services arm of MasterCard International plans to start offering the service, SpendingPulse, today.

The numbers will be derived from aggregate data using MasterCard's payments network, Jim Thomas, its global practice leader of information solutions, said in an interview. The association processes about 6 billion transactions a year.

The Commerce Department releases three monthly retail and food service sales estimates: an advance number about the 15th of the month, a preliminary number about 30 days later, and a revised number in another 30 days.

SpendingPulse will offer clients revision-free data about a week before Commerce's advance estimates, MasterCard said.

"Our locked-down number is one of the greatest values" of the service, Michael McNamara, the director of research products for SpendingPulse, said in an interview Friday. The service will "raise the bar for economic analysis" by providing forecasters with final data much earlier than the government.

To filter for credit card-specific variables, Mr. Thomas said, SpendingPulse will adjust its figures for seasonal card use as well as shifts from cash and checks to credit or debit spending. The data will also be normalized for changes in MasterCard's account growth over time.

Scott Krugman, a spokesman for the National Retail Federation, said that even with the filters in place, some investors may be wary of retail sales numbers calculated by the private sector. …

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