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Shoppers Spend Without Splurging, Clouding US Recession Call

  • Walmart squeeze shows retail dynamics are changing post-Covid
  • Shift comes as Fed, investors attempt to gauge economy’s path
Pedestrians carry shopping bags in San Francisco.

Pedestrians carry shopping bags in San Francisco.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Updated on

Many economists and CEOs are convinced the US economy is about to tip into recession, but a shift in how consumers are spending is making it harder to know what will happen next.

With Covid-19 receding from top of mind, shoppers are returning to stores, traveling and going to concerts -- and spending less on remodeling and entertaining themselves at home. The changing dynamic is challenging even the biggest retailers. Faltering big-ticket purchases and weak clothing sales forced Walmart Inc. to issue a surprise profit warning on Monday, causing investors to dump retail stocks on Tuesday.