Looks like the Affordable Care Act has another potential critic: Wal-Mart (WMT).
The discount retail giant mentioned the ACA as a potential factor that will hurt consumer spending this holiday season on an analysts press call Thursday.
"While it is not coming through in customer research, we do know that some of our customers are concerned about the impact of the Affordable Care Act," Carol Schumacher, vice president of investor relations said, according to the Wall Street Journal. "For many of our customers, having to afford health care and insurance may be another line item in their personal budget that they may not have had to cover previously."
The retailer listed many reasons consumers might pull the purse strings tight this shopping season, and specifically pointed to the individual mandate requirement of the ACA as having the potential to weigh on consumers’ budgets.
Come 2014 all Americans are mandated to have health insurance or they will face a fine of $95 per year or 1% of their annual salary, starting April for every three consecutive months they are not covered.
And while those making up to 400% of the federal poverty level, which comes to about $45,000 for individuals and $94,000 for a family of four, are qualified to receive subsidies, according to the Kaiser Foundation, others could be facing a hefty bill for the care they are now federally mandated to have.
Sales projections for the 2013 holiday season have been less than jolly before Wal-Mart’s accusation. Last week, new figures from Gallup showed consumers plan to spend an average of $704 this year on gifts compared to $786 last year. Back in Septmeber, store traffic measurement firm ShopperTrak, predicted 2013 was supposed to be the weakest shopping since 2009.
Peter Galvin, senior vice president of marketing for SOASTA, a company that performs cloud and mobile testing for brands, says consumers’ lack of confidence in the government has shoppers preferring to shop online over brick-and-mortar shops.