Return to Transcripts main page

At This Hour

Holiday Shoppers Search for Deals on Black Friday; Authorities Release Note Walmart Killer Had on His Phone; Ukraine Races to Restore Power After Russian Strikes. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired November 25, 2022 - 12:00   ET


ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And I see a lot of people holding multiple bags.


So, yes, it looks like at least here at the Macy's in Herald Square in New York City, they are buying.

And you mentioned that 166 million shoppers over the long holiday weekend, of those millions of shoppers, 115 million will just shop today across the U.S. Amazing when you think about it. And a good portion of them, more than half of those, will actually shop in stores.

But inflation, as you mentioned, that really remains a huge focus for shoppers. They're trying to balance, well, how do I keep the holiday cheer? How do I keep the holiday magic and still buy the gifts that I want? A lot of shoppers I spoke to said, listen, we're going to stick to our budget, we're going to look for discounts, we're going to look for deals, and that's why they say they are going for these deals.

Also what's interesting is that we're finding that consumers are going online for a lot of deals as well. We just got some new numbers from Adobe Analytics, which actually blew me away. Just on Thanksgiving Day, it looks like people were doing more than just eating, Erica. They were shopping a lot online. $5 billion spent just on Thanksgiving Day online. And if you look at the first 24 days of November, consumers have spent $77 billion, and I'm talking about just online. It really is amazing.

So, a lot of -- the feeling is upbeat, especially from the National Retail Federation, that this year's holiday shopping season could be a strong one. Erica?

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: They're feeling good about it. Alison, I appreciate it, thank you.

Joining me now, Jeanna Smialek, who is an economy reporter at The New York Times. Good to see you this morning, Jeanna.

So, I'm just curious. What is the sense of how this weekend -- we are seeing more people out, Alison seeing people not just foot traffic, she was saying people with shopping bags -- what could the impact of this weekend and potential sales have on the overall economy? JEANNA SMIALEK, FEDERAL RESERVE AND ECONOMY REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think it's amazingly uncertain, actually. This is a really interesting time for the economy because we do have, on one hand, really, really fast inflation, that is eroding consumer confidence, making things more difficult, making it much more difficult for people on limited incomes to afford presents, necessities, everything that they want to buy in their everyday lives.

But on the other hand, it does seem like people are getting out, willing to shop, spending intentions were still really holding up going into the season, and it seems like people are willing to put things on credit cards when they aren't able to make ends meet. So, we have this weird split screen that we're trying to figure out. I think it's making everything very uncertain.

But it does seem to be the case that, you know, we're seeing at least a decent holiday season. It may not be the kind of gangbusters growth we saw last year, and that should keep the overall economy growing in a reasonably quick clip.

HILL: It's interesting when you mentioned the credit cards, because you've written about it, you've talked about it. There is really a class divide when it comes to holiday spending and it may even be a little more acute this year. Wealthier folks, people with more money to spend, understandably, they're still spending. It doesn't hurt them this much. Lower income households, as you point out, putting more on credit cards. But if that is staying, if that balance is staying on their card for some time, those interest rates are up significantly. That's going to hurt.

SMIALEK: Yes. We're at this very interesting transition moment for the economy, where a lot of people last year, if you remember, had savings in their savings accounts. You know, people got checks during the pandemic. They got unemployment insurance payments, some of them were just stuck at home for months and so they amassed big savings and that really helped to fuel the Christmas season last year.

This year, at least among poorer Americans, those savings are really depleted. And so we're seeing people turn to credit cards, begin to run credit card balances back up. But the question is, how far can that trend go? Because, like you mentioned, interest rates are very high, it's very painful if you hold those balances and carry them. At the same time, consumer balance sheets do look so good. People have so much less debt than they had before the pandemic, that some economists are telling us this trend could have somewhere to run.

HILL: I know you also have some new reporting that the Fed is potentially slowing down the rate of interest rate hikes. What could that mean here? How could we see the impact? How could the average American see that impact? What does it say about the Fed's thoughts on inflation?

SMIALEK: I think the most important impact of the Fed slowing down interest rates in the very near term is that it means that while interest rates are probably going to remain elevated, they may not shoot up a ton higher relative to where they are right now. If the Fed kind of sticks with its plan what markets are already expecting, interest rates may kind of stabilize eventually, which would obviously be good news for anybody who is looking to borrow on credit.

In the sort of medium term, it may mean that the economy can decelerate without a really big recession. You know, we may be able to get inflation down and wrangle it without throwing a lot of people out of work, that sort of mythical soft landing that Fed officials love to talk about.


And if that happens, it's obviously good news for people who are working for their incomes, who are really sort of depending on these jobs to help them fight inflation. And so, you know, I think we're all waiting with bated breath to see what happens next.

HILL: We talk about shopping so much just because of the way the U.S. economy is built. This is a consumer-fueled economy. When we look at this holiday shopping season, which is no longer just about a Black Friday, a Cyber Monday, as we know, it started, it feels like, weeks ago, what are you looking at coming out of this weekend and/or this holiday shopping period? Where will you be focused to try to get a sense of what the trends may be?

SMIALEK: I think the single most interesting thing we're going to learn out of this holiday season is how price-sensitive the American consumer is. And the reason I think that's so interesting is if we're seeing a situation where Americans are demanding really big cost cuts, really big discounts in order to keep spending, I think that bodes really positively for inflation. It suggests that people are not going to be able to just continue spending through relentless price increases forever, and that would be good news, I think.

I think if we see a situation where Americans accept some pretty marginal discounts and kind of just spend right through no matter what retailers are doing. That bodes much more negatively. That's a situation where the Fed might have to engineer a harder landing to get inflation to come back down. And so I think everybody is going to be closely watching those kinds of trends to try and get a grasp on what happens next with price increases.

HILL: Yes, it will be so interesting because, as we know, this economy over the last couple of years, anything that seems to be the norm or the playbook in terms of giving you a sense of where things are headed appears to have been tossed out the window. So, it will be interesting to see how this year's holiday shopping season figures in with those notes.

Jeanna, great to see you this morning. Thank you.

SMIALEK: Thank you.

HILL: Coming up here, police release a disturbing note from the killer at the Walmart store in Virginia earlier this week. In that note, he actually hints at the massacre before carrying it out. Those details are next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


HILL: Developing at this hour, authorities in Virginia releasing details of a note found on the phone of the gunman who shot and killed six colleagues at a Walmart store on Tuesday night. In that note, the shooter rails against people he perceived to have harassed or betrayed him and even hinted at the attack they would ultimately carry out.

CNN's Brian Todd is live in Washington with more of the details. This note is -- it is disturbing to read, Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is, Erica. You know, what officials are working toward this afternoon is trying to determine the motive for this attack and this so-called death note that officials found on the shooter's phone could advance the investigation on that front.

According to the city of Chesapeake, the note discusses God, the Holy Spirit and how the author felt that his colleagues at his work were mocking him. One passage reads, quote, the associates gave me evil, twisted grins, mocked me and celebrated my downfall the last day. That's why they suffer the same fate as me. Here is another quote from that note. I wish I could have saved everyone from myself. My God forgive me for what I'm going to do.

The note also discussed how author wished that his parents had paid closer to attention to what he called his social deficits and said that he felt like he was, quote, led by Satan. The note says the attack was not planned. City officials say the shooter, 31-year-old Andre Bing, used a 9 millimeter handgun in the attack, and that it was purchased locally on the morning of the shooting. Erica?

HILL: Brian, we are also learning more about the victims. The 16- year-old who was killed in this attack, we now know his name.

TODD: That's right, Erica. According to a tweet from the city of Chesapeake, the 16-year-old who was killed is identified as Fernando Chavez-Barron. There is a picture of him. We can also report that according to the Chesapeake police, none of the names that are redacted in the so-called death note belonged to any of the actual victims killed in the attack.

HILL: Brian Todd with the latest for us, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Turning now to the tragedy in Colorado, President Biden calling the owner of Club Q and the hero who stopped the gunman after a mass shooter there killed patrons at the LGBTQ-plus bar.

CNN's Nick Watt has more for us now from Colorado Springs.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erica, every year, Club Q would host a Thanksgiving lunch. This year, it was a little bit different. In the past, they cooked themselves at home, brought it into the club. This year, everything was donated, including the venue. The Pikes Peak Metropolitan Church provided the table and the space and they did not let media in for the dinner itself. There are certain things this community can and should be doing and wants to do on its own.

And meantime, Rich Fierro, the hero who brought down that shooter in the club last weekend, well, he and his wife own a brewery, the Atrevida Brewery, and that is planning to open again this Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Fierro says that they have had a huge influx of orders for T-shirts. He said it might take them a year to deliver them all, but they will try.

And the legacy of this shooting, well, President Biden said it himself. If we have red flag laws, it's ridiculous that they are not enforced. Of course, a red flag law is supposed to flag a potential shooter before anything happens. It's preemptive. It only works if it's used.

And, of course, now, the focus of news crews, of the world will shift away from Colorado Springs, leaving these people with years of hurt and healing. Erica?

HILL: Nick Watt in Colorado Springs, thank you.

Joining me now to discuss, Nadine Bridges, the executive director of One Colorado, the state's leading advocacy organization for the LGBTQ- plus community. Nadine, I appreciate you being with us this morning.


As we talk more in the days since this attack, the owner of Club Q was clear, directly tying this attack at his club to overheated rhetoric from right wing politicians, efforts to target an already marginalized community, to target otherwise the LGBTQ community. Do you agree with that connection?

NADINE BRIDGES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ONE COLORADO: Yes, I absolutely agree with the connection. I think that's -- although we still don't know the motive of the killer, we do know that there has been an intentional attack on an anti-LGBTQ rhetoric across the nation. And right here in the state of Colorado, we've heard some of our own political leaders, you know, say some of the most, you know, despicable messages towards our LGBTQ-plus community in a particular anti-transgender messages towards our non-binary gender expansive youth. It's been devastating.

HILL: It was remarkable to see this giant pride flag unveiled in Colorado Springs. I believe it was at city hall. And we were talking about it yesterday, especially in the face of the history of what has happened in Colorado Springs when it comes to the attitude of local legislators and when it comes to local laws toward the LGBTQ-plus community. Do you see anything changing?

BRIDGES: You know, I want to say that things are going to change. You know, I wouldn't be hasty in my words. But, you know, that you're right, there have been local leaders who have used anti-trans rhetoric in particular for their own political platforms. There's representation in the state board of education where they have, you know, folks in that area have called us groomers and oversexualized drag queens, you know? And so I would love to see those folks, you know, come out and be accountable to the impact, the negative impact they have had on the community and really do some work before I would actually say that this would change hearts and minds.

HILL: Extremism experts have also pointed to a pattern of this rise in aggressive online hate speech, frankly, and how that can then inspire people to potentially -- and, again as you pointed out, and rightfully so, we don't know the motive here -- but how it could in other cases, in many cases inspire people to then act violently.


HILL: I hate to ask it but I think I have to ask it. Is it more that you are surprised that this happened or that, sadly, it hadn't happened yet based on what we're seeing in terms of this heated, horrific, hateful language?

BRIDGES: Yes. I mean I think, you know, the latter, for sure. I think that's -- I'd like to say that we're surprised to think, even as an organization, we have really buckled down on, you know, protecting ourselves and making sure in particular our organizers who are in Southern Colorado, in Colorado Springs, out in the western slope, making sure that they're protected. We all have seen and received hate messages. And this is what happens when you use negative messages that are rooted in disinformation and there are isolated folks who don't know anything about the community and really are just trying to survive, right, like many of us are just trying to survive and this is what happens. They find an excuse and the excuse happened to be in this situation devastating and led to the murder of five people.

HILL: Absolutely devastating. We've heard so much since this horrific attack about what an incredible community Club Q is, the community of that space, such a safe space for the community.

I'm curious, would you want President Biden to come to Colorado Springs?

BRIDGES: Yes. I mean, I think it would be great for President Biden or any political leader, you know, but in particular our president or our vice president to come and speak to the community. They're hurting. And I think that, you know, although Colorado is deemed as a state that has many protections for LGBTQ-plus members, we know that that doesn't necessarily trickle down all the way.

And so having our leaders, like the president here, to say that we see you, he has done some really incredible messages, has put out incredible messages around protecting our community.


So, it would be great to be able to have him there to talk about, you know, what they can do, even at a federal level, to ensure that our communities are protected always.

HILL: Nadine Bridges, I really appreciate you taking the time to join us today. I hope we can continue the conversation. Thank you.

BRIDGES: Thank you for having me.

HILL: Mexican prosecutors have now issued an arrest warrant for the friend of a North Carolina woman found dead last month in Cabo San Lucas. They say 25-year-old Shanquella Robinson's death was the result of a, quote, direct attack.

CNN's Ryan Young joining us with the very latest. A direct attack, I mean, that sounds pretty clear, Ryan.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and this is a strange one, Erica. Look, there are parts that we've been talking about pretty much all day long about the fact that we can't show you this video that details sort of what happened in the hours shortly after they all arrived to Mexico.

You think a group of friends traveling to Mexico should be a good time. Well, in the video that we've been able to watch but can't show just yet because we haven't had that authenticated, you can see a woman being hit over and over again.

And we've talked to Shanquella Robinson's father who tells us that's his daughter who is not fighting back in this video. And then that direct attack apparently led to a spinal cord injury and a broken neck. So, you can tell how serious it was.

Our affiliate, WBTV, talked to her mother. The friends who came back told her that she had suffered some alcohol-related situation and not breaking her neck. In fact, take a listen to her mother talking about the situation just a few weeks ago.


SALAMONDRA ROBINSON, MOTHER OF SHANQUELLA ROBINSON: On Saturday evening, they called and said she wasn't feeling well and they were going to call a doctor. But when they called, the doctor hadn't arrive yet but they say she had alcohol poisoning. We received the autopsy report on Thursday and you see that her neck had been broke.


YOUNG: Erica, just so many questions about this. You think about a 25-year-old traveling, going out of town with friends, people she actually knew since college. So, this is not somebody she just picked up recently or met while she was in Mexico.

The FBI is involved. Mexican authorities are involved. I don't have a name to even share with you for the person they released the warrant for because that name hasn't been told to us just yet. Maybe there's an extradition hearing coming sometime soon.

We know the FBI is involved but so many questions about this. Social media has been keeping this alive for weeks now, people wanting to know what happened here and how could people turn on each other when it should have been such a great time. HILL: Yes. And her family deserves those answers. Ryan, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up here, half of Ukraine's capital is in the dark as Russia continues to target Ukraine's energy infrastructure. We'll get you up to speed on the latest in the war in Ukraine, next.



HILL: Power is slowly being restored to homes in Ukraine. Large parts of the country, including the capital city of Kyiv, have really been in the dark this week. This as there is a continued barrage of Russian strikes targeting critical energy infrastructure in the country. And that includes the area around the Russian-occupied nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia. That is where CNN's Sam Kiley is for us today.

So, what is the impact that you've seen beyond, of course, the lights going out, that broader impact of these Russian attacks?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, things have been very, very eerie in the capital of Kyiv with the second day in which they've got an outage of about 50 percent here in Zaporizhzhia. The power is actually not too bad, which is surprising given that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, one of four, at their peak, is supposed to supply 50 percent of the national energy needs, is offline effectively. It receives power but it doesn't generate any going out.

But, nonetheless, the nation has been picking itself up, once again, after the seventh of these mass attacks by Russian cruise missiles in particular, but also the more primitive Iranian Shahed drones intended to try to break its ability to get through the winter.

Now, the government is saying that they should have most of the power structures back up and running even into Kherson, which is a city the Russians destroyed not only the generating capability but took down all the wires that connected it elsewhere in the country. But by Saturday, they are hoping to have the whole country in some kind of good order.

Now, it won't be perfect. They will have scheduled outages and it is a sort of defiant act by the Ukrainians to the latest tactic of the Russians to try to break the will, the civilian will of the Ukrainian people, Erica. This was a pattern we saw back at the beginning of the invasion. When the invasion didn't go the Russian way, they turned their rough against the civilian populations, of places like Kharkiv. Now, they're doing it to the whole country in terms of the electrical structures. Erica?

HILL: Sam Kiley, I appreciate the reporting. Thank you.

Joining me to discuss, CNN Military Analyst General Wesley Clark, he's the former NATO supreme allied commander. General, good to see you this morning. Not too long ago, the chairman of the joint chiefs, Mark Milley, suggested that maybe Ukraine should start thinking about pursuing a diplomatic solution to this war. You've noted that Russia really squeezing that civilian infrastructure could be an effort to force a ceasefire.


That would give Russia time to regroup. You say Ukraine absolutely needs to avoid that. Why?