Mastercard CEO says spending trends look ‘relatively positive’ in 2022

Consumer spending trends look “relatively positive” so far this year, Mastercard CEO Michael Miebach told CNBC on Thursday, following strong holiday numbers.

Miebach’s comments in an interview on “Power Lunch” come as the Covid omicron variant remains widespread across the world, including in the U.S. Some retailers have warned of an impact to business operations, saying it’s hurting sales and causing staffing challenges in stores and distribution centers alike.

“We’re coming with a momentum of the holiday season into the new year and trends continue to look relatively positive,” Miebach said, noting that the holiday spending jumped 8.5% compared with last year.

Mastercard expects spending this year will be aided by built-up savings accumulated during the Covid pandemic, Miebach said.

Even if Covid-19 cases surge and consumers don’t feel comfortable going into a store, they will just shift spending to online channels, he explained.

“Consumers have learned. They have adapted, and they show all signs of wanting to do more online in digital banking and online shopping and so forth,” said Miebach, who has led the payment processing giant since January 2021.

Mastercard shares closed up less than 1% Thursday, a down day for Wall Street overall with all three major U.S. equity indexes in the red. Shares of Mastercard are off to a solid start in 2022, up 2.9% year to date. The stock is up about 7% over the past 12 months, compared with a more than 22% gain for the S&P 500.