Are We Shopping Less Because Of The Election?

Photo: Getty Images.
Did last night's presidential debate distract you from indulging in some late-night online shopping? That’s the excuse retailers are claiming for a major drop in sales during the election period, Bloomberg reported. Apparently, we’ve all been too busy tweeting about Melania’s pussy-bow blouse to actually go out and buy our own.

Though luxury retailers like Gucci (Mrs. Trump's recent brand of choice) have yet to chime in on the claim, mid-priced brands catering to a wider range of shoppers, like Gap, think that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are responsible for disappointing revenue reports, according to Bloomberg. “The election here in the United States is a level of uncertainty that’s probably unsettling consumers right now," Art Peck, CEO of Gap Inc., which owns Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic, said back in September. Richard Auskick, president of retail for Caleres Inc., which operates Famous Footwear and Dr. Scholl's, cited the current political climate as a reason for decreasing sales in a recent company earnings call."I think [the election] has an impact on the customer, particularly when we’re talking about it being as intense and negatively toned as it has been," he explained. "It's probably only going to get worse, I would imagine.”

It's not just mall brands feeling the tension: Food chains and other retailers have also felt the non-stop election cycle affect their consumer bases. The "uncertainty" Peck alluded to refers to people not knowing how the upcoming presidential race will end — and how that, in turn, will affect their spending in the future, per Bloomberg.

However, this isn't necessarily a new phenomenon. Industry experts insist that this stress-induced shopping boycott is a long-lived election trend: For example, there was a similar decline in retail spending leading up to George W. Bush's inauguration in 2001, according to U.S. Census Bureau data cited by CNBC. Although, according to recent U.S. Census Bureau Retail Trade Reports, it’s hard to confirm a steady trend of sales dipping during debate season.

Only 49% of U.S. chains show increasing same-store sales this past quarter, according to Bloomberg. It may be easy to blame the election (because that’s literally all we’re thinking about right now), but the jury’s still out as to whether politics is the true culprit for lackluster sales. One thing's for certain, though: We're not holding back from purchasing this cycle's hilarious election swag.

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