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When will California’s retail foot traffic return to normal?




If current trends hold: September 19, 2020

Looking only at the data for the first two months of 2020, you might have been tempted to declare — and not without good reason — that it was shaping up to be a banner year for brick-and-mortar retailers. In the last week of February, national in-store traffic was up 3.5% compared to the previous year. California’s walk-in numbers were just a hair below the 2019 figures during that same period, hovering in the 97%-99% range. The U.S. had experienced 23 consecutive quarters of GDP growth, one of the longest such periods in modern history. It felt to many like there was nothing that could cool down America’s red-hot economy.

And then, beginning in early March, the bottom fell out. As the novel coronavirus outbreak proliferated across the country and around the world (and as state and local governments wrestled with how to control it), foot traffic dropped precipitously across the board. By the end of the month, nationwide retail walk-ins were at a paltry 27.1% of the previous year’s figures. California didn’t fare much better, with foot traffic falling to 30.3% at month’s end. Furthermore, both California and the U.S. as a whole hit foot traffic low points in mid-April, with walk-ins at a mere 26.1% and 25.2%, respectively.

One particularly interesting insight we’ve gleaned from our data is that this steep decline in retail foot traffic began well before most states had issued shelter-in-place orders. For context, only eight states had implemented quarantine orders by March 23, and yet nationwide walk-ins had already dropped by 59.7% from the level they were just two weeks prior. California experienced a nearly identical drop of 58.8% in that same span.

This early decline was likely due (at least in part) to the fact that some of the earliest states to issue shelter-in-place orders were also among the most populous. In addition to California (#1 in terms of population), New York (#4), Illinois (#6) and Ohio (#7) were also among the first eight states to close down. However, that explanation does not tell the full story. Consumer concerns about sanitation and safety almost certainly played a role as well.

So what does all this information tell us? When can we expect consumer foot traffic to get back to a level we could consider normal in California?

September 19. Let’s dig into the data.

Elaine Brubacher, a 79-year-old retiree living in Southern California, has explicitly altered her shopping habits during the pandemic. Prior to the spread of COVID-19, she would generally go shopping twice a week. Now, she says simply, “I don’t go out.” Brubacher has limited her shopping trips to once every ten days, and even then, only for the necessities. “I’m not doing any shopping other than what is absolutely necessary — the grocery store or the pharmacy. I’m not comfortable with “general shopping.”



TSG Announces 2020 Top Performing Payment Gateways




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The Strawhecker Group (TSG) is pleased to recognize a selection of payment gateways for their exceptional performance across several key areas, critical to a successful payment platform.

Powered by TSG’s Gateway Enterprise Metrics (GEM) platform, GEM uses pings and real transactions to monitor each gateway’s performance from over 20 different global locations 24/7/365. All transaction metrics are calculated by utilizing real TSG cards, at real TSG merchants, to complete transactions.

COVID-19 has disrupted spending habits. As the landscape changes, the rise in eCommerce has accelerated the shift of sales volume away from brick-and-mortar. As the payments industry looks to adapt to this ‘new normal’, it is now more important than ever for payment gateways to be cognizant of performance versus others in the market.

“From week-to-week, performance fluctuates, and gateways must pinpoint issues to avoid interruptions for the merchant and the consumer,” says Mike Strawhecker, President of TSG. “Our clients use GEM to make tangible adjustments to improve their platforms and integrations, while benchmarking against other leading payment gateways.”

Performance data was assessed across more than twenty industry leading payments providers for six consecutive months (January to June 2020) to determine the Real Transaction Metrics Awards. See below for the winners, as well as runners-ups in each category.

TSG will be announcing the annual Merchant Experience Awards in October.

Real Transaction Metrics Awards

Best Performing Gateway – Worldpay from FIS (U.S. eCom Platform)

The Best Performing Gateway award is based on the GEM Index, an overall scorecard for gateway metrics based on five key areas (gateway minute outage, gateway uptime, transaction speed, transaction success rate, and authorization rate).

Worldpay from FIS’s U.S. eCom Platform received this award due to their exceptional performance across transaction and gateway check benchmarks.

Runner-Ups: Elavon (Fusebox) / Worldpay from FIS (Express)

Highest Authorization Rate – Authorize.Net (A Visa Solution)

GEM tracks the percentage of authorization failures a gateway experiences each day that are unrelated to the issuer, network, or cardholder.

Authorize.Net received this award for having the highest rate of successful authorizations.

Runner-Ups: Fluid Pay / Worldpay from FIS (U.S. eCom Platform)

Fastest Transactions – Elavon (Fusebox)

GEM measures the time it takes for a transaction authorization to complete using a real signature debit card, just as a consumer would experience at the merchant.

Elavon’s Fusebox received this award for having the fastest average transaction speed.

Runner-Ups: Worldpay from FIS (Express) / Worldpay from FIS (U.S. eCom Platform)

Gateway Uptime – Worldpay from FIS (U.S. eCom Platform)

GEM pings gateways every minute from over 20 different global locations (31,680 pings a day per gateway) to uncover uptime issues.

Worldpay from FIS’s U.S. eCom Platform received this award due to having the highest uptime percentage.

Runner-Ups: EpicPay / Authorize.Net (A Visa Solution)

Gateway Minute Outage – Cybersource (A Visa Solution) / Worldpay from FIS (U.S. eCom Platform)

In addition to Gateway Uptime, GEM uses pings at multiple locations to determine minute outages. If at least 33% of location checks fail at the same time, an outage is recorded.

Cybersource and Worldpay from FIS’s U.S. eCom Platform received this award due to having the fewest minute outages.

Runner-Up: Clearent

TSG’s GEM platform annually honors leading payment providers. Past winners have included companies such as BluePay (Fiserv), Braintree (A PayPal Company), Square, and Shopify.

Companies and/or products considered for any TSG awards may or may not include clients of TSG and does not necessarily represent all companies or products in the market. This analysis is based upon information we consider reliable, but its accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. Information provided is not all inclusive. All information listed is as available from January 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020. The Strawhecker Group (TSG) is not and/or may not be endorsed, sponsored by, or in any other way affiliated with the any companies or their logos illustrated in this presentation. The trademarks shown are registered and their own. This document has not been prepared by any entity displayed.

About TSG

The Strawhecker Group (TSG) is the largest analytics and consulting firm focused on the payments acceptance industry. TSG serves the entire payments ecosystem and has experience in working on large-scale projects for the world’s biggest payment players. The firm has worked with all card networks, nine of the top ten merchant acquirers in the U.S., as well as leading private equity firms and investment banks. The firm’s 50-person workforce is primarily in Omaha with satellite offices in Sacramento, Denver, and London. For more information please visit

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Voucher Shares continues to support World Land Trust during the…




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Voucher Shares – the UK’s #1 Green Voucher Codes Website.
Give Back, Shop Sustainably, and save with thousands of voucher codes, discounts and deals

The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it…

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While most countries and businesses are still struggling with the global Covid-19 pandemic and its economic impact, Voucher Shares team made a decision to continue its donations to the World Land Trust – the International Conservation charity.

Voucher Shares CEO, Tatiana Larsen, says:

“Voucher Shares brand was launched in 2019 keeping Green Initiatives and Sustainability at its heart. While the global lockdown brought us business challenges, similar to many other businesses, we feel that it’s our duty to focus on a long-term goal.

“When helping to save money on everyday shopping, like every other voucher code website, also continues to support the World Land Trust Action Fund for the second year running. With many businesses and individuals cutting down their spending budgets at the moment, conservation charities need financial support now more than ever. The World Land Trust Action Fund offers support to the most urgent conservation projects globally, and in many cases, it is the last chance to save endangered forests, wildlife and unique habitats, working alongside WLT’s local conservation partners.

“I have seen deforestation first-hand, and along with my friend, colleague, and Voucher Shares’ co-founder Miranda Coombes, we are determined to help protect tropical forest habitat through our business.
Both mothers and experienced businesswomen, we are also involved in educational projects and happy to share our learnings about sustainability and conservation with children. We believe starting at a grass roots level is key to ensuring our planet is protected for generations to come.

“We work with pretty much all of the main brands but we put the spotlight on the brands that are going that extra mile to be sustainable and eco-friendly. Our aim? To provide our users with the knowledge to make the right choices and help support a great charity. We can all see the huge benefits on the environment during lockdown, birds started singing again, our consumption of fossil fuel dropped off a cliff, there were many negatives but also many positives from a global environmental perspective. However, it’s vital to keep shopping sustainably, keep recycling, keep thinking about the impact we are having on our environment. We can’t rely on the Government, a pandemic or global crisis to make these changes. We are all responsible. We need prosperous economies with conscious consumers and producers, who can promote and maintain sustainable, eco-friendly ways of living.”

We hope that our shoppers will choose not just any voucher codes, but Green voucher codes when shopping online.

About Voucher Shares: Voucher Shares limited is based in the UK and launched its Green Voucher Codes website, in 2019. The website offers discount codes, voucher codes and deals with thousands of retailers. Voucher Shares curates content and blogs around sustainability, putting it at the heart of everything it does. Voucher Shares users can also share codes and best deals with their friends to earn money. Simply register an account with Voucher Shares, share codes with your friends and earn when they shop. Voucher Shares moto is: Save, Share, Earn – One for You, one for the Planet.

About World Land Trust Action Fund:
World Land Trust (WLT) pioneered the concept of purchasing and protecting land for conservation, starting in 1989, and has, since then, funded ground-breaking habitat protection for more than 30 years, with an impressive track record of achievements. Sir David Attenborough is one of the WLT patrons, Britain’s best known and most loved Natural History Filmmaker. Sir David has supported the work of the WLT since its foundation in 1989 and became a WLT patron in 2003. Wildlife presenter, author and adventurer Steve Backshall; English cricketer and television personality, David Gower; and charismatic television presenter, spectacular wildlife photographer, author and wildlife expert, Chris Packham are also WLT patrons.
Donations to World Land Trust’s Action Fund enable WLT to act quickly, whenever and wherever urgent conservation action is needed. The Action Fund demonstrates the possibility and positivity of taking pre-emptive steps to protect these precious wildernesses, for nature, for us and for the future.

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Fortress Building Products Draws on Aggressive Growth Strategy, Enters…




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By operating in alignment with consumer purchasing habits, we’re able to better serve our customers and jumpstart a new phase of company growth.

Fortress Building Products, a category leader in decking, framing, fencing, railing, lighting and fastener systems, is rapidly extending their reach to meet customer demand through the e-Commerce arena. A component of their aggressive growth strategy, Fortress’ emergence into the virtual marketplace comes at a crucial time for the company. By partnering with select leading e-Tailers, the company is able to scale its operations and provide new and existing customers with direct, reliable avenues to quickly purchase Outdurable Living™ solutions.

“Working hand-in-hand with reputable online retailers makes it easier than ever for homeowners and DIYers to purchase built-to-last outdoor living products,” said Glenn Coffee, Director of Channel Sales, Retail & Ecommerce at Fortress Building Products. “Our industry is changing in front of our eyes—we’re seeing more and more buying decisions being made online. By operating in alignment with consumer purchasing habits, we’re able to better serve our customers and jumpstart a new phase of company growth.”

Fortress Building Products currently offers VERSAI™ ornamental steel fencing and Athens Residential aluminum fencing via select leading e-Tailers. In the coming weeks, Apex™ PVC decking, Infinity I-Series composite decking and HULK FASTENERS™ will be added to the company’s portfolio of virtual marketplace product solutions.

For additional inspiration and support during their buying experience, customers can turn to the recently unveiled The completely reimagined platform unites the company’s once five individual product websites into one, creating a consumer-friendly destination for Fortress’ Total Solution of outdoor living products.

For more information about Fortress Building Products and authorized partners offering Outdurable Living™ solutions in the virtual marketplace, visit

About Fortress Building Products

Fortress Building Products is a leading manufacturer and solution provider in the residential, multi-family, industrial and commercial building products industry. With more than 50 years of experience pushing the boundaries to “Defend Against the Ordinary”, Fortress Building Products forged a family of refined, resilient products that are the pinnacle of beauty and durability. Based in Texas, the Fortress family of products, which includes decking, framing, fencing, railing, lighting and fastener systems, is a complete collection that delivers the full Outdurable Living™ experience. Learn more at

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