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‘Barbenheimer’ is stimulating the economy

by Jamal Harris
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Originally Published: 27 JUL 23 13:12 ET

By Matt Egan, CNN

    (CNN) — New York (CNN Business) — “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” have been such blockbuster movies that their impact appears to be showing up in economic statistics.

Bank of America cardholders increased their non-gasoline spending by 1.9% year over year during the week ending July 22, the bank said Thursday.

While spending in many categories fell — including online electronics, home improvement, furniture and lodging — one area is surging: entertainment.

Bank of America cardholders spent 13.2% more on entertainment than a year ago, easily the most out of any category tracked. That is a significant acceleration from the week of July 15, when entertainment spending was up 4.9%.

Earlier in July, entertainment spending was flat to down compared with the year before, according to Bank of America.

In a research report, Bank of America said the increase in spending on entertainment, as well as at clothing stores, was “likely partially driven by the release of the much-anticipated movies, Barbie and Oppenheimer.”

“Barbie” dominated the box office in its debut weekend, raking in $155 million at the domestic box office. The film, distributed by CNN owner Warner Bros. Discovery, was the biggest-ever debut for a female director.

Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” brought in another $80.5 million.

The combined debut, dubbed “Barbenheimer,” was the fourth-highest grossing industry weekend of all time in North America, totaling $302 million.

The blockbuster results show how consumers are still spending aggressively in some areas — even as they pull back on goods and elsewhere.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell was even asked on Wednesday about how demand for “Barbie” and Taylor Swift concerts is impacting the broader economy.

Powell said the “overall resilience” of the economy, coupled with cooling inflation and rebounding consumer confidence, is a “good thing.”

However, the Fed chair acknowledged that if the economy heats up too much, it could prove problematic for the central bank.

“At the margin, stronger growth could lead, over time, to higher inflation and that would require an appropriate response for monetary policy,” Powell said. “So we’ll be watching that carefully and seeing how it evolves over time.”

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