People lined up outside of Target near Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on August 17. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images A distinctive characteristic of the ongoing economic crisis is how uneven its effects are throughout the economy. Of course, all crises hit some industries harder than others. But in this case, some major industries are actually coming out ahead while others face a severe or even existential threat, because the crisis is doing far more to change the nature of economic activity than to reduce it in the aggregate. This helps explain how, for example, Walmart’s stock can be up 11 percent from the start of the year, and Target’s up 22 percent. General merchandise retailers like Walmart and Target have done especially well under COVID, for a few reasons. Early in the crisis, customers stocked up on necessities, including groceries. Even after their pantries were stocked, people kept buying more groceries than usual, because they have been eating out less. Tens of millions of Americans shifted to doing work and school from home, and they needed supplies for that, like office chairs and computers. The government sent stimulus payments in the spring that made consumers more eager to spend;… Read full this story
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