The Labour Day Long Weekend is a great time to be in my home studio for the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel, alongside Elmer Kim and Jennifer Hall, talking consumer debt levels, Walmart taking on Amazon, and flying cars (yes, you read that right!).
As Canadians combat the challenges of a global pandemic, we’ve seen consumer debt levels increase, mostly due to mortgages: payment deferrals, refinancings, and rising house prices can all play into this. Of note, there’s been a fair amount of renovation activity taking place over the “pandemic months”, which could contribute to higher housing prices, and perhaps, some enthusiasm to say yes to a new home. Conversely, decreased mobility means less spending in areas such as travel, dining, and retail, offset by what was evidently a fair amount of online shopping. Let’s see what the trends show over the Fall months.
Walmart is a familiar retailer in many communities, with millions of people living within a short drive of their local store. The launch of Walmart Plus (occurring on September 15th in the US) could represent interesting competition for Amazon Prime. Although slightly more expensive and with a free shipping threshold of over $35 dollars, Walmart Plus will include some perks of its own, such as in-store item scanning via the Walmart app and gas discounts. This program should be part of a larger strategic plan to attract customers, with the potential Tik Tok acquisition providing a connection point to an important demographic. On a personal note, the Walmart store in my area has provided a good quality shopping experience during times of COVID19 and the mask mandate has made safety considerations less of an issue. We will have to stay tuned to see when this program will launch in Canada.
And finally, the successful launch of a flying car could bring some interesting applications to transportation and logistics (I have wanted a flying car, Jetsons’ style, since elementary school!). Commercialization details will be important, including reliability, price, training, and applications, but in the meantime, let’s enjoy the fun of this story, as it’s been a while since we’ve been able to consider technology for the sheer accomplishment of what is possible (doing so almost seems like a return to normal).
Thanks for sharing your Long Weekend with us, and see you again soon!