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US Retail Sales Drop Heavily in April

Total purchases down 22% year on year, NRF says.
May 17, 2020 9:57 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... The decline in US retail sales intensified in April as COVID-19 forced stores to shut, according to data the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported.

Revenues plunged 22% year on year, and fell 16% compared to March, which had already posted a record-setting 8% month-on-month drop.

The NRF based these numbers on official data from the US Census Bureau. April’s figures could be imprecise, as many retailers that closed were unable to respond to the Census Bureau’s monthly survey, the NRF warned.

“As predicted, retail sales were bad in April and lower than in March,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “This should come as no surprise since April was the first full month when most businesses not considered essential were closed, both in retail and across the economy.“

However, digital retail sales in the US climbed 21% year on year in April, as stores remained on lockdown the entire month.

Every retail category other than online declined in April on a monthly basis, including grocery stores and other shops that had seen a surge in March, according to data the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported. 

NRF believes May sales will show some market recovery, but it will take a while before purchasing returns to normal levels.

“Now we’re in mid-May, many businesses are already starting to reopen,” Kleinhenz noted. “Relief payments and pent-up demand should provide some degree of post-shutdown rebound, but spending will be far from normal and may be choppy going forward.”

However, Kleinhenz is hopeful the economy will stabilize in the long term.

“I’m still of the opinion that we went into this with the economy on a sound footing and that we will hopefully come out of it the same,” he added. “But we’re going to need more data to tell us whether the underpinnings of the economy have been damaged and how badly. We need to carefully watch the data and learn to understand what it is telling us.”

Image: A woman shopping at a mall. (Pixabay)
Tags: Jack Kleinhenz, National Retail Federation, NRF, Rapaport News, US Census Bureau
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