Hawaii credit and debit card spending up 11%

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii credit and debt card transactions rose 10.81 percent from year-before levels during the first quarter, the strongest improvement for the quarter in four years.

First Hawaiian Bank reported this Sunday based in its own customer credit and debit card transactions for the quarter.

Since it is the largest processor of credit and debit card transactions in the state - $4.3 billion worth in 2012 - its data can reasonably be considered a proxy for spending trends by the full Hawaii economy.

"Total sales volume of nearly $800 million was a record high of any quarter to date with all 16 industries posting gains over the prior year," Senior Vice President Keith Nagata said in a statement. "This is a good indication that our economy is getting stronger."

First quarter transactions rose 3.5 percent in 2010, 10 percent in 2011 and 10.4 percent in 2o12, and in these previous years one or more industries had failed to show increases, so the most recent increase is broader as well as greater.

The biggest percentage increase came in shipping, which rose 27 percent to $15.7 million. Hotels were next, up 22 percent to $176 million. Travel agencies, the last sector to show improvement in recent years, rose 15.5 percent to $32 million.

Utilities and communications rose 14 percent to $61 million. Insurance rose 11 percent to $11 million. Convenience stores rose 10 percent to $18 million. Home furnishings rose almost 10 percent to $27 million.

Smaller percentage increases were posted in the home improvement, travel activities, medical services, restaurant, automotive, retail and supermarket sectors. In the restaurant sector, for example, a comparatively moderate percentage increase, 6.6 percent, translated to $122 million in sales, up more than $7 million from the year before.