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Consumer spending broadly flat across the EU in Q4 2012 but shows marked uplift from Q3

Consumer spending in Q4 2012 down 0.1% compared to the same period in 2011 according to the Visa Europe: EU Consumer Spending Barometer but growth in three of five largest economies drives improvement on Q3.

London, 4 March 2013 – Consumer spending contracted by -0.1% across the EU in Q4 (October to December) 2012 compared to Q4 2011. While spending was marginally lower than a year ago, this represents a marked improvement on Q3 2012 when spending was -1.7% lower than the same period in 2011.

The Visa Europe: EU Consumer Spending Barometer uses adjusted Visa Europe card transaction data to provide a robust indicator of total consumer expenditure across all payment methods. With €1 in every €6.75 in Europe spent on a Visa card, the Barometer gives a uniquely comprehensive insight into the health of consumer spending.

While overall spending continued to contract across the EU as a whole, the rate of decline eased as a result, in part, to spending growth in three of the five largest economies. Following contractions in Q3 2012, spending in Q4 in France increased 1.3% year-on-year while in the UK annual growth of 2.1% was recorded. Germany continued to build on the spending growth recorded in Q3 with an increase of 2.6% in the final quarter of 2012.

In contrast, Italy and Spain, the fourth and fifth largest EU economies, saw further accelerated rates of declines in household consumption during Q4 (-7.6% and -6.5%, respectively). Elsewhere, Portugal and Greece (-7.4% and -2.0% respectively) continued to record further declines in spending, albeit at slower rates than in Q3 2012.

Philip Symes, Chief Financial Officer at Visa Europe said: "2012 proved to be a subdued year for household spending across the EU with year-on-year contractions recorded in three of the four quarters. However, the year ended with spending heading in a positive direction and almost on a par with spending levels from 2011. A return to consumer spending growth for many of the largest economies in the EU is a welcome sign and as drivers of growth, it is a trend we hope to see continuing into 2013."

About the Visa Europe’s EU Consumer Spending Barometer

€1 in every €6.75 spent in the EU is on a Visa card, with around 80% of that spending on debit cards. This means the Barometer provides a uniquely comprehensive and timely insight into the health of consumer spending in the European Union.

Visa Europe’s EU Consumer Spending Barometer is based on spending on all cards issued by Visa – debit, credit and prepaid. Markit has developed the Barometer by creating a model which adjusts the raw Visa transaction data for a number of factors.

First, the data are deflated by changes in the number of Visa cards issued to account for the expansion of Visa’s business. Secondly, an adjustment is made to offset changing consumer preference for card usage. This is based on an assessment of the trends in cash withdrawals and point-of-sale (POS) transactions on Visa cards. Finally, to account for inflation, the data are deflated by changes in the consumer price index to provide an indicator of real changes in household expenditure.

The Visa data have enjoyed a strong positive relationship with equivalent official numbers in recent years. The Visa data cover a much wider range of sectors than just retail as cards are increasingly used for payments such as utility and tax bills.

For the full Visa Europe: EU Consumer Spending Barometer please visit: http://www.visaeurope.com/en/newsroom/all_reports/latest.aspx

About Visa Europe

Visa Europe is a payments technology business owned and operated by member banks and other payment service providers from 36 countries across Europe.

Visa Europe works at the forefront of technology to create the services and infrastructure which enable millions of European consumers, businesses and governments to make electronic payments. It is not a credit card company, almost 80% of its business is on debit cards, and its members are responsible for issuing cards, signing up retailers and deciding cardholder and retailer fees.

Visa Europe operates a high volume, low cost business model that provides services to its members. Its surplus is reinvested into the business and used to improve capital and reserves. In the last six years, Visa Europe has invested over €1 billion in new technology and infrastructure.

Since 2004, Visa Europe has been independent of Visa Inc. and incorporated in the UK, with an exclusive, irrevocable and perpetual licence in Europe. Both companies work in partnership to enable global Visa payments. As a dedicated European payment system Visa Europe is able to respond quickly to the specific market needs of European banks and their customers - cardholders and retailers - and to meet the European Commission’s objective to create a true internal market for payments.

For more information, visit www.visaeurope.com or follow us on @VisaEuropeNews.