What’s the best way to keep up with the economy with the rapidly evolving omicron?
We expect plenty of economic data releases during this shortened trading week: consumer spending, existing home sales, revised GDP and more. The point is, much of this data covers the recent past. And the omicron variant is changing things from day to day. This is why many economists pay special attention to “alternative” indicators to get a sense of the current state of the economy.
Alternative indicators include things like box office numbers and subway turnstile numbers. This is data that can help answer a big question:
“At what point have we come back to something akin to pre-pandemic norms? Asked Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab, a Marketplace underwriter.
So far this month, she said the picture was mixed. For example, the number of diners sitting at restaurants fell earlier this month, according to the OpenTable website.
âNot in a big way, not like what we saw in the spring of 2020, but a noticeable drop,â she said.
TSA traveler numbers and gasoline demand can reveal whether people feel comfortable traveling, said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics.
If those metrics start to go down, “it’s a sign that you tend to see less activity in the service sector, and therefore less activity overall,” he said, adding that people had spent more on services this year. But that could change, if they become more careful.