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US economic reopening reaches halfway point on improved retail and hotel spending, Goldman Sachs says

GA reopening
A man decorates a bistro table outside his restaurant amid the novel coronavirus pandemic in Atlanta, Georgia on April 27, 2020.

Goldman Sachs’ US reopening scale improved to five out of 10 last week, marking a halfway point in the nation’s economic recovery.
The jump followed progress made in the hotel, movie theater, and retail industries over Labor Day weekend, Goldman economists said.
The bank’s reopening index gained to 72 from 65 last week, reaching its highest level since mid-March.
Some stay-at-home trends maintained their strength, including e-commerce spending and streaming popularity.
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The US economic recovery reached its halfway point after 19 weeks of steep recession and steady improvement, Goldman Sachs economists said Wednesday.

The bank’s reopening scale jumped to five after the Labor Day weekend showed encouraging trends across the retail, movie theater, and hotel industries. The theater debut of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” marked a turnaround moment for the entertainment industry, and the holiday weekend accelerated a rebound in travel activity, according to the bank.

Though state and city reopenings continue at varied paces, “more red is slipping into the ‘Stay at Home’ heatmap as ‘Back to Normal’ gains ground,” the team led by Heath Terry wrote in a note to clients.

Reopening Index

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Goldman’s gauge tracks a composite of “stay-at-home” and “back-to-normal” metrics, ranging from app downloads and spending data to TSA checkpoint counts and OpenTable readings. The overall index gained to 72 last week from a revised reading of 65.

The new level is the index’s highest since mid-March. The week’s increase is the index’s biggest yet.

Goldman cited strong earnings results from Macy’s and clothing group PVH Corp. for improved retail activity. Both companies showed healthy online sales helping offset store closures. Macy’s expects e-commerce revenues to count for 40% of its business moving forward, and forecasted a prolonged holiday shopping season as more Americans shift spending online. Additionally, increased spending on luxury goods signaled improvements to consumer confidence.

Overall, the long weekend saw more Americans leave their homes and boost spending at restaurants, malls, and hotels. OpenTable diner counts gained to -44% year-over-year from -48%. Retail visits climbed to -19% from -22%. Airbnb app downloads accelerated to 12% higher from the year-ago period, and revenue per available room from AllTheRooms gained to up 19% year-over-year.

Last week still yielded some positive signs for stay-at-home trends. Services including Netflix and Zoom remain in high demand, and e-commerce and online payments re-accelerated their growth in early September, according to the team.

Disney Plus app downloads leaped 88% month-over-month ahead of its release of “Mulan.” Hours watched on the video game streaming platform Twitch were 62% higher year-over-year at the end of August, and user growth on gaming platform Steam re-accelerated to 39% year-over-year growth.

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