At a Glance: Mastercard SpendingPulse™ DataFeed

SpendingPulse™ provides accurate and timely retail sales data that users can leverage to anticipate the results published by the U.S. Department of Commerce (as well as other geographic counterparts).

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 The Basics

Mastercard SpendingPulse™ aggregates credit card transactions from the proprietary Mastercard payments networks across companies, public or private in a given NAICS code grouping, to generate sector level values. SpendingPulse™ provides accurate and timely retail sales data that users can leverage to anticipate the results published by the U.S. Department of Commerce (as well as its geographic counterparts). Given the breadth of coverage, SpendingPulse™ can also be used to assess total market trends, regional sales, and industry benchmarking.

The product information and content statistics contained in this document are as of May 2019.

The Coverage 

The Mastercard SpendingPulse™ DataFeed contains sales volume information for eight countries, each with at least seven years of monthly history.  Within each country, a variety of sectors, subsectors, and segments are provided.  In addition, where possible, Mastercard breaks out eCommerce sales from traditional brick-and-mortar sales. Figure 1 shows the historical availability for all countries and sectors. Start dates highlighted in blue denote an eCommerce breakout is available.

Figure 1

The Differentiators

SpendingPulse™ is built upon a proprietary methodology that spans three key pillars: the sources of transactions, point of sale location, and sector classification. A combination of aggregate and anonymous sales activity from the Mastercard payments network estimates for other forms of payment (i.e. cash or check) and supplemental data from third-party sources are used to create indexed sales values. 

To calculate country specific sector values, both the merchant and the location of the transaction must be identified. Mastercard relies on the point of sale information to map a transaction to a given geography. For multi-geography merchants, transactions are associated with point of sale country and are not aggregated to a headquarter or primary location for the merchant. For select sectors, Mastercard will also determine whether the sale was done online or in-person.

The final step is to calculate a sector level data point. For the U.S., Canada, U.K., Hong Kong, Brazil, and Japan, Mastercard adheres to the NAICS classification system to determine the sector and subsector. For Australia the sectors are based on the Standard Industry Classification (SIC) scheme. For all geographies, Mastercard adheres to the definitions, as closely as possible, established by the respective’ s country’s Office of Statistics, or government department’s methodology. For example, with in the U.S. Mastercard mirrors the system deployed by the Department of Commerce. In this system, each retail merchant is assigned one NAICS code and all sales made by that merchant are classified accordingly. It is this precise methodology coupled with a vast panel of transactions that allow Mastercard to create a country specific macro level indicator.     

Example Use Case

SpendingPulse™ provides timely insight into key retail sectors and trends well before official numbers are announced. For example, Mastercard publishes its monthly U.S. Total Retail figures at least five days prior to the Department of Commerce announcement, with the SpendingPulse™ figure exhibiting a 95% correlation with official figures.

To showcase the various levels tracked by Mastercard, let’s examine Australia’s February 2019 data. On April 3 the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced stronger than expected retail sales, rising .8% month-over-month increase (3.2% year-over-year) vs. the .3% market estimate. In the prior months, concerns had been rising about the overall health of the Australian economy. 

On March 12, 2019, Mastercard SpendingPulse™ reported a .9% month-over-month and a 3.2% year-over-year change in Total Retail sales volume.  By capturing these transactions in near real-time, Mastercard was able to publish this information nearly three weeks prior to the official release.

In addition, spending aggregates are provided across five different sectors allowing for a more detailed understanding of the health of the economy. For February, General Merchandise Department Stores and Restaurant spend were key contributors.   

Figure 2

Diving deeper, SpendingPulse™ provides these figures across Australia’s six states and two territories. Figure 3 details the regional trends. The Northern Territory has year-over-year growth of 14.2% in General Merchandise Department Stores, while Western Australia fell by nearly 4%.  Grocery Stores and Total Retail each exhibited positive trends country wide. 

Figure 3

Whether tracking regional or country wide trends, SpendingPulse™ provides a timely and accurate view of various economies around the world. Mastercard also offers a more granular view at the performance of the United States within its Sector Insights™ DataFeed. It provides a weekly micro-sector performance indicator for comparison against leading merchants in a specific sector or subsector. To learn more check out the Sector Insights At A Glance.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about any of the content mentioned above, please contact us at Please visit the product page on the Open:FactSet Marketplace for more information: Mastercard SpendingPulse™