Regions chief economist Bob Allsbrook studies a lot of data and parses plenty of numbers to divine the latest trends in things like consumer spending and consumer confidence.
Real-world examples also catch his eye. Case in point – he thinks the fact most Walmart stores will be open on Thanksgiving says a lot about consumer spending and sentiment.
In a presentation to reporters Tuesday afternoon, Allsbrook said Walmart is doing that because it actually wants to pull a lot of December spending into November.
“Because (Walmart) is concerned that by December, consumers may not have much income left to spend,” he said.
Other retailers are following suit, he noted. And the big items this year reflect the state of the American consumer – the big items being things like electronics that can be used in the home.
Allsbrook said big screen TVs are among the items most in demand, and the deep discounts reflect that. What’s the theme? If cash-strapped consumers absolutely have to spend money, they want to buy something that’ll last a long time and contribute to something like free entertainment at home.
“I was in New York this past week shopping in Bloomingdale’s and Toys ‘R’ Us, and it was (already) like the day after Thanksgiving with those prices,” he said.