In March, when the first lockdowns and store closures came, it wasn’t all that bad. In fact, many companies recorded increases in their sales.
This was because parents were buying up toys and board games to keep the kids happy during the increased times spend at home. But the expectations were much grimmer for April. And the latest data by the US Census Bureau, Dow Jones and the National Trade Federation show a big dip in sales.
Each of these institutions has a different method to calculate the sales. So, they have different results, but they all are in the negative. The results vary from a drop of 12.3% to 16.4% depending on the method.
“These retail sales numbers are not a surprise given the current state of affairs,” says NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “The vast majority of retail stores have been closed, we are in the midst of historic unemployment and when it comes to personal finances, discretionary spending takes a back seat to essentials. Prior to this pandemic, retail was setting records in year-over-year growth, employment, and investment. It is a resilient industry serving a smart consumer, and despite today’s report, we know it will be leading our nation’s economic recovery as this crisis recedes.”
“As predicted, retail sales were bad in April and lower than in March,” says NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Now that we’re in mid-May, many businesses are already starting to reopen. 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.”
NRF says that it’s not all bad. Online and non-store sales grew by 21.2%. Grocery and beverage stores also netted a 13.3% jump. Still, clothing and accessories recorded a huge drop of 89.3%. So, you have a very dynamic setting and May will be an interesting month since some of the countries are starting to relax the measures.