Prime Day card usage surges for 2019: Report

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Amazon Prime Day set a record for online purchases this year, lifting credit union credit and debit card purchase volumes along the way.

The annual e-commerce bonanza, which took place July 15 and 16, reportedly resulted in 175 million items sold in just 48 hours, eclipsing 2018’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Advisors Plus, a division of the credit union service organization PSCU, reports that the CUSO’s owner credit unions saw a 31% lift in transactions year over year, along with a 46% increase in sales volumes compared to last year. Specifically, credit card transactions were up 23%, while debit card saw a 37% increase year over year.

“Amazon Prime Day is an exceptionally visible event with broad marketability – and it gets bigger every year,” Glynn Frechette, senior vice president of PSCU’s Advisors Plus, said in a press release, noting that the CUSO worked with many of its member institutions to put together strategies to ensure top-of-wallet status for the big day. “With the overall increase in transactions taking place online, it is imperative that credit unions be part of the online shopping experience, and we wanted to help our owner credit unions better compete and benefit from events like Amazon Prime Day.”

PSCU calculated its data by compiling and analyzing information from CUs that used the CUSO for debit and or credit processing during Prime Day in both 2018 and 2019, comparing that information from two full-day periods for both years.

A 2018 study from the CUSO found credit as the prevailing purchase preference for most demographics. Norm Patrick VP of Advisors Plus, said in an email to CU Journal that increased debit card usage on Prime Day followed spending patterns set during last year's holiday shopping season.

"Debit card is emerging as a preferred method of payment during these discretionary, event-driven periods," he said. "Part of this success is likely driven by Amazon expanding further into everyday spend categories, such as groceries and other household goods, which have been the domain of debit.”

Amazon reports that Prime Day was one of the company's biggest sales days ever for Alexa devices, a trend some credit unions have already embraced as part of the move toward voice banking.

This story was updated at 4:58 P.M. on July 25, 2019.

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