Despite the fact that some economists think the recession will end in September, Wal-Mart's CEO Rick Duke thinks otherwise. Speaking to the Today Show he predicted a much longer recession during which there must be a "sustained change in the way that families live."

Duke shared this opinion shortly after it was announced that retailers as a whole took a 1% drop in sales in March. Despite the drop in overall retail sales, Wal-Mart has continued to do well in the down economy thanks to an increase in the number of consumers turning to discounted prices.

At first glance it's easy to dismiss this comment as a means of reassuring company stockholders after missing the expected rise in sales for the first quarter, but there may be something to his projection.

While the government and analysts have mountains of data; Wal-Mart has a stream of real time data about consumer purchases. Remember, this is the company that can track a spike in the sale of Pop Tarts to a hurricane, so it makes sense that it has a grip on what's happening in the economy. Since Wal-Mart is the go-to shop for estimated 200 million Americans each year, it may have some of the best data regarding the habits of consumers and their wallets. Perhaps then we should give Mr. Duke's prediction a bit more weight than that of the average CEO.

The video below includes the full interview where you can learn about a few more consumer behavior trends that Wal-Mart has seen.

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