Executive Briefings

Executives Claim Election Season Is Negatively Affecting Sales

The coming election will give the United States new lawmakers and a new president. But what does it mean for fast food, leisure cruises and bulldozers? As the nation's bitter, bizarre campaign season builds to its November conclusion, companies across a range of industries are using the election as a data point - sometimes as an excuse - to explain what's happening in their business.

Executives at Jack in the Box said uncertainty over the election could be affecting consumers' willingness to buy Jumbo Jacks and cheeseburgers. Commercial real estate brokers said the election was causing businesses to hold off on new office leases. Auto dealers said the results could determine how many people buy cars.

From banking to oil to pharmaceutical companies, to real estate agents and even cruise ship operators, everyone seems to think wariness ahead of the election is affecting their business. Sometimes for the better, mostly for the worse.

Economists aren't so sure.

"It's essentially untrackable and unknowable," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

The problem with blaming unease over the election for disappointing business results is that there is faint evidence for it in the broader data. Businesses continue to hire at a decent clip, new home sales are steady and measures of consumer confidence are down but not by much. And on last week, the Commerce Department reported that consumer spending was up 0.5 percent in September, a very healthy gain.

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Executives at Jack in the Box said uncertainty over the election could be affecting consumers' willingness to buy Jumbo Jacks and cheeseburgers. Commercial real estate brokers said the election was causing businesses to hold off on new office leases. Auto dealers said the results could determine how many people buy cars.

From banking to oil to pharmaceutical companies, to real estate agents and even cruise ship operators, everyone seems to think wariness ahead of the election is affecting their business. Sometimes for the better, mostly for the worse.

Economists aren't so sure.

"It's essentially untrackable and unknowable," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

The problem with blaming unease over the election for disappointing business results is that there is faint evidence for it in the broader data. Businesses continue to hire at a decent clip, new home sales are steady and measures of consumer confidence are down but not by much. And on last week, the Commerce Department reported that consumer spending was up 0.5 percent in September, a very healthy gain.

Read Full Article