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Former Wal-Mart US CEO optimistic about holiday shopping season

  • This could be one of the best holiday shopping seasons yet, Bill Simon, former president and CEO of Wal-Mart U.S., told CNBC on Thursday.
  • President Donald Trump's proposed tax reform bill will help companies and also allow consumers to spend more, he said.

This could be one of the best holiday shopping seasons yet, Bill Simon, former president and CEO of Wal-Mart U.S., told CNBC on Thursday.

Wal-Mart's stock is up 14 percent year to date, and Simon doesn't think it's dropping anytime soon.

"The consumers are bullish, the GDP numbers are strong, and I think, by and large, employment numbers are pretty good. I think there's a good opportunity for us to have one of the best Christmas-selling seasons that we've had in a while," he told CNBC's "Power Lunch."

However, Simon was cautious to note that a lot of things can change between now and the holidays. Rising tensions with North Korea, for example, could discourage the consumer, he said.

There is one definite event that Simon is sure will change the outcome of the holiday shopping season – but in a good way.

President Donald Trump's tax reform plan will help companies and also allow consumers to spend more, he said.

"By lowering the corporate tax rate and taxing from a territorial perspective, rather than a worldwide perspective, it would allow companies to make the best decisions based on the investment opportunity and not the tax code, and I think that's important," Simon said.

From a retail perspective, he notes that the more money in a consumer's pocket, the more they'll spend. The average Wal-Mart customer's household income is on the low-to-mid end, $30,000 to $40,000 per year, according to Simon. If Trump is able to carry through with his planned substantial tax cut for individuals in this range, Simon suspects retail will profit – and not just Amazon.

He applauded the internet giant's "great business model," but was also quick to point out that the company is far from "infallible."

"How they digest their brick-and-mortar business and how they deal with customers who still want to buy from brick-and-mortar retailers and really want to have that digital integration experience is going to be really challenging," Simon said.

"I still think there's a big opportunity for very, very good retailers."