Big-Box Retailers' Earnings in Spotlight: A Critical Look at Consumer Spending and US Economy's Resilience -

Big-Box Retailers’ Earnings in Spotlight: A Critical Look at Consumer Spending and US Economy’s Resilience

August 17, 2023

The retail sector is poised to face intense scrutiny from investors in the upcoming days. Anticipated second-quarter earnings reports from big-box retailers such as Home Depot (HD), Target (TGT), and TJX Companies (TJX) are set to be published today and tomorrow, with Walmart’s (WMT) results following on Thursday. Simultaneously, the macro-economic figures from the U.S. Commerce Department are anticipated to shed light on the overall retail sales data. It is predicted to demonstrate a growth of 0.4% M/M, a potential step up from June’s disappointing 0.2% increase.

Consumer Behavior and Spending Patterns

Focus will extend beyond these major reports to also include consumer spending trends, specifically in areas such as “clothing, food, home furnishings, and electronics”. These earnings reports are expected to provide insights into consumer responses to the current pricing environment. Alterations in pricing, whether small increases or decreases, can significantly influence consumer spending, especially in this era of low unemployment. Any rise in consumer spending could have implications on the estimates of retail margins and inventories, possibly impacting the guidance offered by retailers.

The Broader Economic Context

These impending retail figures are also expected to give a more comprehensive assessment of the current state of the U.S. economy. The recent GDP growth rate of 2.4% in the second quarter, propelled by robust consumer spending, suggests that the economy is on steady footing. The resilience of the U.S. economy even led to the Federal Reserve staff retracting their recession forecast. Despite these positive indications, it took Wall Street a while to digest this information, with Bank of America recently adjusting its outlook to predict a ‘soft landing’. In a similar vein, J.P. Morgan abandoned its forecast of a “mild contraction” that was expected to occur as early as the next quarter.

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