The latest results and forecasts from retailers indicate that U.S. consumer spending is under stress due to increased living costs and existing debts, posing challenges for the retail sector during the back-to-school and holiday seasons.
Consumer spending growth is slowing as the economy stabilizes, with consumers prioritizing essential purchases and adjusting their spending habits in response to rising interest rates and financial pressures.
As student loan payments resume, major retail and food chains in the US are warning investors about a potential slowdown in consumer spending, with retailers like Macy's, Target, and Ulta identified as particularly vulnerable due to their exposure to younger, low-income consumers with student loans.
The end of student loan payment forbearance could negatively impact the housing market, causing a decrease in household formations and homeownership rates as borrowers struggle to allocate their income towards student debt.
As the student loan pause ends, borrowers are facing critical deadlines, such as requesting a refund for payments made during the pause and updating their repayment plan options before interest starts accruing on September 1.
Despite overall solid consumer spending, retail earnings reports indicate a shift towards more cautious shopping habits, with lower-income shoppers feeling economic pressure and opting for essential items and discounts at off-price and discount retailers. Delinquencies on department store credit cards are rising, suggesting a stretched consumer, and retailers are bracing for the impact of the resumption of student loan payments on shoppers' budgets. The upcoming back-to-school season and Halloween will serve as indicators for the rest of the year and the holiday season.
A survey reveals that 62% of student loan borrowers in the US are considering boycotting loan payments due to doubts about affordability, with half of respondents believing a boycott could lead to total debt forgiveness, raising concerns about the risks and consequences of refusing to repay student loans.
The US economy is expected to slow in the coming months due to the Federal Reserve's efforts to combat inflation, which could lead to softer consumer spending and a decrease in stock market returns. Additionally, the resumption of student loan payments in October and the American consumer's credit card addiction pose further uncertainties for the economy. Meanwhile, Germany's economy is facing a contraction and a prolonged recession, which is a stark contrast to its past economic outperformance.
Australian retail sales rebounded in July, but the annual rate slowed, indicating that high borrowing costs are slowing consumer spending and not affecting the outlook for interest rates.
The impending resumption of student loan payments after a three-year pause due to the pandemic is causing financial strain for borrowers, potentially leading to defaults and economic repercussions, despite some borrowers using the pause to pay down debt and improve their financial situation.
Student loan repayment resuming in the US this fall is expected to have a significant negative impact on the housing market, potentially affecting homeownership rates for at least a year, according to a poll conducted by Pulsenomics.
Millions of Americans may have to prioritize their student loan payments over their retirement savings, as the resumption of student debt repayments poses a challenge for workers already struggling to save for retirement due to inflation and market volatility.
More Americans are struggling to keep up with car loan and credit card payments, particularly lower-income earners, as higher prices and rising borrowing costs put pressure on household budgets, signaling potential consumer stress; the situation is expected to worsen as interest rates continue to rise and paused student loan payments resume.
The student loan pause has ended, and interest has started accruing with the first payments due in October for millions of Americans.
U.S. consumer spending increased in July, boosting the economy and reducing recession risks, but the pace is likely unsustainable as households dip into their savings and face potential challenges from student debt repayments and higher borrowing costs.
Despite economists' expectations, many student loan borrowers have already resumed making payments before the October deadline, potentially leading to a decline in consumer spending and affecting the economy as households adjust their budgets.
As part of President Biden's efforts to make student loans more manageable, the administration has created a 12-month on-ramp to repayment starting in October 2023, allowing borrowers to delay payments without negative consequences, although interest will still accumulate; however, the administration's new SAVE income-driven repayment plan may be a better option for some borrowers.
U.S. consumers have accumulated $43 billion in additional credit card debt during Q2 2022, three times the average amount since the Great Recession, and credit card interest rates have soared to over 20%, raising concerns about the impact of inflation and rising interest rates on consumers' ability to pay off their balances. However, some economists argue that higher wages are helping consumers keep pace with their debt, and the overall rate of charge-offs remains low. Nonetheless, the combination of spent-down pandemic savings and the resumption of federal student loan payments could pose challenges for lower-income borrowers and hinder consumer spending.
Consumer spending in the US has supported the economy despite concerns of a recession, but rising interest rates, the resumption of student loan payments, and dwindling savings are predicted to put pressure on consumers and potentially lead to a shrinking of personal consumption.
The resumption of student loan payments in October will add to the financial burden of Gen Z and millennial Americans looking to buy a home, further squeezing their ability to afford housing.
Women, who hold two-thirds of the $1.7 trillion federal student loan debt in the US, face a greater struggle with loan repayment due to lower earnings and the gender pay gap, which will become more evident as borrowers resume loan repayments after a pandemic pause, exacerbating their financial burden.
The Biden administration is implementing a 12-month "on ramp" to student loan repayment, protecting borrowers from consequences such as credit reporting and collections, while many student loan servicers are changing and borrowers may need to update their information. Additionally, monthly payment amounts may vary depending on the repayment plan and income-driven options.
The Biden administration has introduced a new federal student loan repayment plan called SAVE (Saving on a Valuable Education) that calculates monthly payments based on a borrower's income and family size, and offers forgiveness after 10 years of payments.
Some federal student loan borrowers may have their payment due dates extended to November or December based on factors like their last payment before the pause, and recent graduates may get more time if they're still in their grace period.
Hundreds of thousands of borrowers in the US are set to receive at least $6 billion in student loan forgiveness, but a major loan servicer is being accused of violating the terms of the agreement, adding to the ongoing issues faced by borrowers as student loan payments resume.
The looming government shutdown may disrupt the return of student loan payments on October 1, as loan servicers struggle to handle the influx of borrowers seeking assistance.