Only store credit cards: the future of the past

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ROCKVILLE, Md., July 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — As reported in Packaged Facts’ Private Label Credit Cards in the US, transactions and dollar volume for private-label (store-only) credit cards declined sharply with the onset of COVID-19, but then recovered in the second half of 2020, with claims estimated at $142 billion for that year.

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The historical track for shopping-only cards reflects both the intransigence and the changeability of the past. The first large-scale consumer credit offering was from retailers who found it profitable to extend credit to their customers so that they could pay for the goods over time. After World War II, America experienced an explosive growth in new single-family homes, and those households needed refrigerators, washing machines, and vacuum cleaners. Americans could pay for those purchases, but not all at once from their next paycheck. They needed access to credit so they could pay for those big ticket items over time, just like they made payments on their homes and their cars.

For much of the 20th century, these cards were the most commonly used form of credit, and they were issued, managed and traded only by the retailer whose name appeared on the front of the card. In recent decades, however, the use of private-label cards has stagnated, partly ravaged by competition from general-purpose credit cards branded Visa, MasterCard or American Express.

The setback for malls and brick-and-mortar retailers from the COVID-19 pandemic has further hurt the performance of leading private label credit card issuers. The bankruptcies and large-scale store closures of some of their largest partner stores, including Ascena (owner of Ann Taylor and Loft), Brooks Brothers, JCPenney and Neiman Marcus, have damaged the wallets of card program managers.

Also taking into account the changing payment preferences of Millennials and Gen Z. As noted by Elizabeth Rowe, analyst for the Packaged Facts report: “Younger adult shoppers are demanding access to point-of-sale (POS), buy-now, pay-later (BNPL) offers that allow them to pay for purchases in four equal installments, interest-free, while receive their purchased item as soon as the first payment is made.” Major retailers and their store card/loyalty programs are therefore turning around and partnering with BNPL digital solutions for their online customer dollars.

About packed facts

Packaged Facts, a division of, publishes market intelligence on a wide variety of consumer market topics, including consumer demographics and consumer insights, the food and beverage market, consumer financial products and services, consumer goods and retail, and pet products and services. Packaged Facts also offers a full range of custom research services. Reports can be purchased on our company website and are also available through

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SOURCE Packaged Facts

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