AmEx Sees Holiday Spending Soaring as Omicron Fails to Bite
(Bloomberg) -- American Express Co. said the omicron variant has yet to put a damper on holiday shopping.
Consumer retail spending on the firm’s cards so far this quarter -- AmEx’s best proxy for holiday results -- has soared 30% compared to pre-pandemic levels, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Campbell told investors at a conference Tuesday.
“It’s early, we’ll have to see what happens with omicron,” Campbell said. “But from what we see, it looks very, very strong.”
Investors have speculated that the new variant, which the World Health Organization said poses a “very high” risk, will intensify a surge in Covid-19 cases and stifle efforts to revive economies around the world. It’s not yet known how severe the variant is.
Shares of American Express, which have climbed 40% this year, advanced 5.1% to $168.94 at 10:50 a.m. in New York.
This quarter’s overall billings, which include other categories of spending such as services or travel and entertainment, have jumped about 11% so far on AmEx’s cards compared with the same period in 2019, Campbell said, adding that that’s also an improvement from the third quarter.
AmEx has said it will spend more on marketing, and has been revamping many of its most popular products, including Platinum cards for its consumer and small-business customers. Those efforts have helped buoy results even as customers remain hesitant to travel.
“If we had been having this chat six months ago, I would have said, ‘Well as we get into 2022, I’d expect our marketing spend to come back down to levels closer to where it was pre-pandemic,’” Campbell said. “I’m not saying that anymore, because we see a real opportunity that we’re taking advantage of here.”
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