The fiscal cliff is the biggest Grinch of all

A new Wal-Mart poll shows that shoppers are worried about the issue.

By Jonathan Berr Dec 12, 2012 10:46AM
Image: Couple sitting on sofa with bills, using laptop, elevated view Stockbyte/Getty ImagesThe debate over the fiscal cliff is starting to resonate on Main Street, and Wal-Mart (WMT) is concerned that it might affect holiday sales.

A poll released Tuesday by the world's largest retailer found that 15% of customers who were aware of the fiscal cliff said the debate over the automatic spending cuts and tax increases would affect what they would spend on gifts. That survey also found that 75% of those surveyed knew what the  term "fiscal cliff" meant compared with 25% before the presidential election, according to Reuters.

CEO Mike Duke did not release any details of the poll and a spokesperson for the Bentonville, Ark., company could not be immediately be reached for comment. Other retailers that cater to the middle class, such as Target (TGT), Sears Holdings (SHLD) and Kohl's (KSS) would likely see similar results if they queried their shoppers. Wealthy consumers aren't enamored with the idea either. Tiffany (TIF) recently slashed its earnings outlook for the year in part because its customers continue to be worried about the economy.

I would suspect that the Wal-Mart shoppers that are most concerned about the fiscal cliff probably are in connected in some way to the defense industry. If Congress fails to act, the Pentagon's budget would be slashed by about 10%, which would lead to massive layoffs. The National Association of Manufacturers estimates these cuts would eliminate more than 1 million private sector jobs, including 130,000 manufacturing jobs, by 2014. A study cited by Washington Post estimates that 48,000 civilian jobs at the Defense Department would be lost along more than 229,000 from other federal government agencies.

The National Retail Federation is forecasting a 4.1% increase in holiday sales this year, which is below last year's actual sales rise of 5.6%. How the fiscal cliff is affecting these figures is tough to say. Customers are probably leery about shelling out big bucks for the holiday since the economy is improving at glacial rate even absent the specter of draconian government spending cuts and tax increases.

--Jonathan Berr is long Target.  Follow him on Twitter@jdberr.

More from Money Now

Tags: Retail
Dec 14, 2012 12:31PM
The fiscal abyss proudly brought to you by Democrooks and Republicons in extended bi-partisan demolition of the Union. I never knew a politician that wasn't loathe-worthy.

Only communists would support either party.
Dec 13, 2012 5:18PM


It is that simple.  Obama's solution to everything is, print more paper to buy elections.

Let's do some compromise , cut spending today, not ten years from today.

Obama's version of compromise is the same as my great grandaughter, do it my way.  

Who gave the Fed. power to print paper any time they want to?

Dec 12, 2012 3:29PM
Should read:  "Federal Reserve Bank is the biggest Grinch of all."  Their policies are destroying the purchasing power of our currency, which results in causing fear to spend.
Dec 12, 2012 3:24PM
Don't worry about the fiscal cliff.  North Korea may pay the debt off and no cliff will be necessary!  LOL  North Korea just launched a long range missle sucessfully!!!  Ain't it funny how the US wants nuclear power but doesn't want anyone else to have it.  They also want their guns but don't want us to have one.  In 1945, the US was bragging about winning WWII due to the atomic bomb but now, they're shaking in their britches!!!  North Korea has Iran on thier side! Neither of them really care what Washington thinks...and I don't either! I think it is funny.  I just hope nobody is hurt in the process but I'm tickeled to see how the US threatens every little country.  They don't threaten Russia!!!  US imposes no fly zones.  Russia contiunes to fly!!!  US says nobody can buy oil from certain countries, Russis sends in tankers and doesn't even alter course!!! US warships circle but no banana!!!! LOL
Dec 12, 2012 3:15PM
pay 900,000. to remove one sentence. wouldn't cost that much to replace a congressman or women !!!!!!!!!! of course they would have themselves protected from that !! how about a recall ????????
Dec 12, 2012 3:01PM

I hope walmart goes under and the big banks follow including the corporate farmers. For every big greedy buisness that goes under there will be thousands of mom and pops to fill the void.


Iceland had it right. The government bailed out the people and jailed the bankers and people responsible for the mess.


Google: iceland did it right

Dec 12, 2012 2:58PM

I'm worried about the fiscal cliff too.  But, I want it to come if it takes that for the American public to demand a replacement of all the elected bunch in Washington.  I think every American should demand every congress person resign after selling all they have and giving the money toward the national debt.  I am sure they have laws already in place to prevent them from losing a dime and to protect them from incompetencies.  But, they should be DEMANDED to pay up.  If we make a debt, we pay up or lose anything we have.  The same should be true for them too.  They made this debt!  I did not make a dime of it.  You didn't either, unless you are an elected person in D.C.  They will make a last minute "deal' but we'll still have to pay.  Enough is enough. 

Dec 12, 2012 2:57PM
"The controversial "drum major" inscription on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington will be removed. The Interior Department said the inscription will be removed, not replaced, in order to preserve the "structural integrity" of the three-story statue."
The work is expected to cost between $700,000 and $900,000"

Almost a MILLION DOLLARS to remove one sentence.

And people wonder why our country's broke, and broken. 
Whoever authorized paying that kind of money for this, fell off the cliff, and landed on their head!


If everyone wants Walmarts and corporations to go under, then think The Lion King.


Think about the part when Scar takes over. How did that look?


You know what? All you anti Walmart, big corporation people, I wish Walmart and other big name businesses would go out of business. Putting more unemployed on the street. Where do those people go? Those employees and most of the shoppers dont have degrees or the elements of whats needed to start businesses themselves.

That would show all of you where we go. Down. For a loooong time.

Without the big businesses employing people, what happens?

Government supports them? Who pays the Gov.?

I hope we go the way of Atlas Shrugged, then all you idiots can cry about it. Who will help you then? Obama's stash?


Dec 12, 2012 10:57AM

Life is great!


Chris Van Hollen & Elizabeth Warren in 2016 & 2020!


God bless Mom & Pop stores!


God bless unions and living wages!


DIE big and unregulated corporations and DIE Ayn Rand Capitalism, DIE!


God bless America!

Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

Trending NOW

What’s this?


[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market finished the Thursday session on a higher note with the S&P 500 climbing 0.5%. The benchmark index registered an early high within the first 90 minutes and inched to a new session best during the final hour of the action.

Equities rallied out of the gate with the financial sector (+1.1%) providing noteworthy support for the second day in a row. The growth-oriented sector extended its September gain to 1.9% versus a more modest uptick of 0.4% for the ... More