PODCAST: Winter came for the GDP

Months of record-breaking cold meant people spent a lot of time at home this winter.

On Wednesday, the government reported GDP numbers. Turns out, January to March showed hardly any growth -- an annual rate of just one-tenth of one percent, way below forecasts. Spending on goods was down, but for services, like healthcare, consumer spending was up. Business investments and exports were down, so it wasn't just the weather. But analysts say more recent data suggest the current quarter will be better.

Plus, it seems like you can get everything at a Walmart—including the kitchen sink. And, now, auto insurance. Wal-Mart is rolling out a new service via its website, walmart.com, that allows consumers to shop online for auto coverage, compare premiums, and sign up for a policy all in one sitting and from a single website. It’s part of the giant retailer’s strategy to offer more financial services as it struggles to sell more to consumers in its stores, says retail consultant Burt Flickinger III at the Strategic Resource Group in New York.

“Whether it’s money transfers, or competing with GameStop on used videos, or auto insurance, Walmart is struggling to attract shoppers,” says Flickinger. “And the shoppers aren’t coming to the supercenters.”

 

About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio

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