Bloomberg is reporting that factors like high gas prices and the 2 percentage point increase in the federal payroll tax may have hurt sales at Walmart and other discount stores.
Department store sales and housing sales may be doing better, but it seems as if life and health insurers should be paying close attention to what’s happening at the discount stores.
Workers who have a hard time scraping up the cash to buy tuna and peanut butter at Walmart may not be in the mood to hear that they can pay for a little voluntary disability insurance or fund a health savings account by cutting back on the money they’re spending at Starbucks.
Workers who can’t buy tuna at Walmart may already have stopped drinking coffee at Starbucks. They might also have stopped paying the rent and the electric bill.
What Your Peers Are Reading
Before John Edwards imploded so spectacularly, he talked about the “Two Americas” — the divide between the rich and the poor.
That sounds like (and, in Edwards’ mind, maybe intentionally was) some kind of socialist attack, but the idea that the middle class is disappearing, and that we’re becoming a country with a few rich people and a lot of poor people, is not necessarily a “liberal” issue.