Retail sales crater record 16% in April amid coronavirus lockdowns and spending slump
Sales at U.S. retailers sank a record 16.4% in April after coronavirus lockdowns shuttered much of the economy, cost millions of jobs and triggered an unprecedented slump in consumer spending.
Retail sales tumbled in every category except online shopping, the government said Friday. Sales also sank by a revised 8.3% in March, easily marking the worst back-to-back declines in modern American history.
Economists polled by MarketWatch expected a 12.5% plunge.
Receipts at auto dealers fell more than 12% as sales fell to the lowest level in decades. Gas stations also saw a 29% plunge in sales as oil prices slumped and stay-at-home orders kept Americans off the roads.
Even if those two categories are set aside, the damage was almost unfathomable. Sales excluding gas and autos -- two of the largest sources of retail spending -- sales sank 16.2%.
Grocery stores, which benefited from consumer stockpiling in March, posted a 13% decline in sales. Receipts also tanked 78% at clothing stores, 60% at electronics stores, 59% at furniture stores, 30% at bars and restaurants and 15% at pharmacies.