By Noor Zainab Hussain
(Reuters) – Mastercard Inc <MA.N> said it expects consumer spending to gradually return to “pre-COVID” levels as people start using their cards again on clothing and domestic travel with countries easing lockdown measures that have brought the world to a standstill.
The world’s second-largest payment processor on Wednesday reported better-than-expected first-quarter earnings and said it has started seeing early signs of spending levels stabilizing.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has shut down large parts of the global retail industry as stores remain shut and shoppers stay at home to avoid catching the highly contagious illness.
The outbreak has also hammered the global economy, pushing companies to layoff employees by the millions. That, in turn, could weigh on credit card issuers as more people default on their payments.
“We believe we are currently in the stabilization phase in most markets. The next phase is normalization, where governments gradually