President Biden signed a nearly $ 1.9 trillion relief plan last week, and direct payments of $ 1,400 per person are already being deposited into the bank accounts of low- and middle-income Americans.
March 16, 2021, 1:57 p.m. ET
The law, known as the American Rescue Plan, extends the weekly federal unemployment benefit to $ 300 through September 6, and provides billions of dollars in coronavirus vaccine distribution and aid to schools, states, and tribal governments small businesses struggling during the pandemic.
“Some of that money has to go into retail – it just has to go,” said Chadha.
The main changes in consumer habits during the pandemic were seen over the past few weeks as retailers reported their holiday and annual results. (Most retailers end their fiscal year in late January to fully capture vacation spending.)
For example, Walmart reported sales of $ 151 billion in the fourth quarter, up 7.3 percent year over year, while Target also saw an increase over the same period, including a surge in digital sales. Consumers have taken an interest in the chains in person as well as online over the past year and have increasingly used services such as roadside collection.
At Macy’s and Gap, one of the largest shopping center operators in the country, the story was different. Sales declined in the fourth quarter and annual revenue fell sharply as many consumers stayed away from malls and had fewer reasons to buy new clothes in an isolated mall. Gap, which also owns Old Navy and Banana Republic, cited home-stay restrictions and store closures as reasons behind the fall.
Still, Gap had a positive outlook for the latter half of this year. “With the introduction of vaccines and the start of stimulus checks, we are currently looking positively into the second half of 2021, reflecting a likely return to normalized prepandemic levels,” said Katrina O’Connell, Gap’s chief financial officer, in one Profit call this month.
Jeff Gennette, Macy’s chief executive officer, said in an interview earlier this month that the company is looking for “clues about what’s wrong with wedding dates, what’s wrong with restaurant reservations, what are the signs that communities are opening up.” This would help the company determine how consumers were planning “occasions to wear” this year, he said.