Consumer Spending in the Face of the New Variant

US search activity for most “going out” topics continues to improve. “Staying in” topics such as telecommuting and home improvement are also elevated to a lesser extent. The Omicron variant could shake things up but it’s too early to say for certain. Depending on the severity of the outbreak, consumer propensity to spend may decline. 

Job related searches remain strong in the weeks leading up to Omicron’s debut, but this may soon reverse course as uncertainty spreads. As noted previously, elevated job search activity points to healthy non-farm payrolls report this upcoming Friday. 

Although the new COVID variant may have some negative effects on job search activity, it is important to note that typically job searches slowdown in the fall/winter months. Going forward it will be important to be cognizant of both seasonality and Omicron contributing to the job search slump. 

If consumers are going to get scared it could materialize quickly (at least if they watch the news). The Omicron variant has propelled COVID-19 to fame once more in both financial and mainstream  TV news. For financial media it’s the greatest frequency ever surpassing even the initial outbreak back around March of last year. 

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