Holiday activities coupled with declining interest rates served to dampen enthusiasm for All Savers certificates yesterday at area financial institutions.
Banks, savings and loan associations and credit unions all reported lackluster sales of the one-year, tax-exempt certificates, even though it was the so-called window day, the first business day on which investors can choose to buy certificates at the old rate (now 10.77 percent) or wait for the the new rate (8.34 percent) to go into effect Monday. Some financial institutions plan to remain open Saturday.
Several of the dozen executives surveyed expressed the opinion that most people who were planning to invest in All Savers certificates already have done so. A few said they think that investors now would prefer to wait until interest rates go up again.
Indeed, figures released yesterday by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board indicate how much sales have slowed. During the first 10 days of this month, sales by savings and loan associations amounted to an estimated $1 billion, compared with $11.6 billion during the first 10 days after the certificates went on sale Oct. 1. The rate that day was 12.61 percent. Total sales of All Savers certificates since Oct. 1 are estimated between $35 billion and $40 billion.
Here is the way it went yesterday at District, Maryland and Virginia financial institutions:
On the window day a month ago, the State Department Federal Credit Union sold $2.85 million worth of certificates. Yesterday, volume amounted to $117,791. State's total sales to date: $10 million.
Navy Federal Credit Union did $3 million worth of business on the previous window day. Since then volume has averaged about $500,000 a day, and yesterday it wasn't much better. Total sales to date: $43.5 million.
D.C. National Bank reported as many sales yesterday as during the first 10 days of the month. However, Senior Vice President Robert Pincus said there was no comparison with the previous window day. Total sales to date: $2.5 million.
Suburban Trust had no more than a "little flurry" of activity. Total sales: $27.6 million.
Thanks to a campaign that featured extra-high interest rates to attract customers before the All-Savers were made available, State National Bank in Rockville started off with an $8 million bang; since then, it has taken in $3 million. The last time rates changed, the bank had a $700,000 weekend; yesterday was "very slow."
Virginia National Bank reported "not much traffic" yesterday. In October, it took in an average of $1 million a day; in November, the rate is about $250,000 daily. Total sales to date: $32.5 million.
The story was much the same at area savings and loan associations yesterday. "It hasn't been as busy as either the first weekend in October or the last weekend in October," said Fred Genau, vice president for savings at Metropolitan Federal Savings and Loan Association in Bethesda.
First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Arlington recorded $14 million in sales of All Savers certificates on the first weekend in October, but sold only $4 million just before the rate changed at the end of the month.
Based on yesterday's activity, "I would suspect that we'll do less than $2 million this weekend," said Stephen Detwiler, senior vice president for savings and marketing.
Officials at Maryland Federal Savings and Loan Association in Hyattsville said the balance in All Savers' volume increased only 7.7 percent this month, compared with 47.5 percent from the day the certificates were introduced in October until the end of last month.
"We started out in October with about $9 million worth and ended up with $12.5 million," said Maryland Federal's executive vice president, Robert Halleck. "It just hasn't been that popular in November.
"I think that after the next couple of days, the bloom is going to be off the rose," Halleck said.
Thomas J. Owen, chairman of the District's Perpetual American Federal Savings and Loan Association, agreed that "the big crush is over." Owen said most depositors who would have invested in the certificates have done so at the higher rate.
"Frankly, I think people are waiting to see if those rates will go up again," said Edgar F. Peterson, president of National Permanent Federal Savings and Loan Association, also of the District.