American Express CEO discusses travel and dining trends

By: Wajeeh Khan
Wajeeh Khan
Wajeeh is an active follower of world affairs, technology, an avid reader, and loves to play table tennis in… read more.
on Jun 15, 2021
  • Travel bookings in May were 95% of what they were in May of 2019.
  • Restaurant spending is also recovering to the pre-pandemic levels.
  • American Express is close to 40% up year-to-date in the stock market.

The U.S. economy has been gradually reopening in recent weeks as Americans continue to get vaccinated against the Coronavirus. As restrictions eased, people have been increasingly using their credit cards for travelling and dining, according to American Express Co (NYSE: AXP) CEO, Steve Squeri.

Steve Squeri’s remarks on CNBC’s “Mad Money”

On CNBC’s “Mad Money, Squeri told the host, Jim Cramer, that domestic travel bookings almost completely recovered in recent weeks to the levels seen before the pandemic. The chief executive said:

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“When we look at our travel numbers, our travel bookings in May were 95% of what they were in May of 2019. We also believe that by the end of the year, in the U.S., we will have a full consumer recovery from a travel perspective, and overall, by the end of the year, I think globally, we’ll probably be about 80% of what we were in 2019.”

The Transportation Security Administration also confirms that the recent Friday marked the first time since the start of the COVID-19 crisis that over 2 million passengers were screened through checkpoints at the countrywide airports. It, however, also highlighted that the travel volume was still down about 26% compared to what it was in 2019 on the same day.

Spirit Airlines also said on Monday that leisure demand continued to grow in the second quarter. AXP shares are currently exchanging hands at almost $164 – a close to 40% increase from $118 per share at the start of the year.

Restaurant spending is also recovering to the pre-pandemic levels

Restaurant spending, on the other hand, stood at 85% of the pre-pandemic levels in May, said CEO Squeri.

“The people that are really spending a lot in restaurants are millennials – 130% in April of what they spent back in 2019. We believe that that’s going to continue to move forward,” he added.

The payment company’s executive further acknowledged that personal savings have doubled, and delinquencies currently stand at a multi-year low. Squeri said:

“When you look at the U.S. economy right now, I think it’s really starting to come back. Credit numbers are not like anybody thought they were going to be.”

In April, American Express reported weaker than expected revenue for its fiscal Q1. At the time of writing, the multinational financial services corporation is valued at more than $131 billion and has a price to earnings ratio of 26.88.

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