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Oil's Pain Is Wal-Mart's Gain

Fuel savings are finally priming spending at stores
Shopping carts sit inside a Wal-Mart store in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is scheduled to release earnings data on Nov. 15.
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Wal-Mart Stores finally hit its number this morning, posting its first quarterly gain in store traffic in 24 months.

This may be cause for other retailers to celebrate as well, as Wal-Mart welcomed cash that would have otherwise been spent on gas. It’s a theory popular among economists: Plummeting fuel costs lift all boats, not like a tide but like a sort of shipping lock, to play the metaphor through. Analysts at Goldman Sachs note that the longer gas prices stay low, the more consumers like to spend.