The Federal Reserve no longer thinks a recession is going to happen, but it still expects an economic “slowdown.” Mastercard Inc.
last month said consumer spending was “resilient,” while Visa Inc.
said it was “stable.” This week, as analysts try to figure out what description best fits the mixed signals in the economy, we’ll start to get the view from the retail stores where people are doing that spending. It begins with home-improvement chain Home Depot Inc., which reports quarterly results on Tuesday. Target Corp. and TJX Cos. report Wednesday. Walmart Inc. and Ross Stores Inc. round out the week on Thursday.
The quarterly financial figures arrive amid low unemployment but continued consumer difficulties, and not all economists are convinced the economy is out of the woods. Inflation, though easing in some spots, is still hurting consumers. Savings are running thin. Analysts expect a big back-to-school season, with potential implications for the year-end holidays. But they’re worried about the coming return of student-loan payments — and the degree of large retailers’ exposure. Retailers have tried to realign their inventories so they’re stocked up with what people want. And they’ve fattened or propped up sales via price increases for essentials. But analysts have said they can’t rely on that tactic forever. “Consumers are still spending but are under financial pressure and have been adjusting how much they buy while also shifting from goods to services,” Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at the Natio …