Ace in Hand: The Value of Card Data in the Game of Nowcasting

Tomáš Adam, Jan Bělka, Martin Hlůže, Jakub Matějů, Hana Prause, Jiří Schwarz

We use Mastercard card payments data to nowcast turnover in Czech retail sales and services. We show that an index based on this data tracks surprisingly well the official retail sales data released by the Czech Statistical Office (CZSO) more than a month later. We further show that the card payments data not only helps in backcasting Czech retail sales after the end of the month, but also provides valuable information for the nowcast as soon as three weeks into the ongoing month. That is six to seven weeks ahead of the official release. To illustrate the usefulness of our method, we show that we would have been able to backcast, with reasonable accuracy, the sharp drop in retail sales that occurred at the outbreak of the first wave of covid-19 in Czechia in March 2020 four weeks before the March data was released by the CZSO.

JEL codes: E21, E27

Keywords: Card payments data, household consumption, household demand, nowcasting, retail sales, sales in services

Issued: October 2023

Download: CNB WP No. 14/2023 (pdf, 2.3 MB)