Despite Reform, C-store Debit and Credit Card Fees Continue to Rise

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Despite Reform, C-store Debit and Credit Card Fees Continue to Rise


NATIONAL REPORT -- Few retailers have yet to benefit from the recent regulatory changes aimed at reducing debit card fees, according to a new study of Internet retailers released just as convenience store operators revealed their debit and credit card expenses rose a whopping 23 percent last year.

According to the study by Internet Retailer magazine, the proportion of respondents who said their fees have gone up (17.7 percent) is larger than the group who said their fees have gone down in the past year (14.6 percent). Most respondents -- 67.7 percent -- reported that their fees are unchanged, according to the report.

"I would have expected Internet retailers to have appreciated a benefit from the rate reduction," Forrester Research senior analyst Denee Carrington told the news outlet.

The delay in realized savings could be caused by the fact that most retailers have yet to negotiate new deals following the passage of the new laws, which took effect in October, the magazine reported. However, convenience store retailers also have seen little benefit from the swipe fee reform they fought so hard to achieve over the past few years.

According to new NACS data presented today at the NACS State of the Industry Summit in Chicago, convenience store pretax profits reached a record $7 billion in 2011, but taken as a percent of total sales, profits fell from 1.146 percent to 1.027 percent of total sales, largely because of a 23-percent increase in debit and credit card fees, which hit a record $11.1 billion.

Total credit and debit card fees surpassed overall convenience store industry profits for the sixth straight year, and are now 87 percent higher than overall industry profits, NACS reported. As a percentage of overall sales, credit and debit card fees equaled 1.63 percent of total industry sales dollars, factoring in all forms of payment, including cash and check. Just looking at motor fuel sales, credit and debit card fees added 5.7 cents to every gallon of gasoline sold at convenience stores in 2011.