Retail sales plummeted by a record 16.4 percent in April, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, as many businesses are running on limited capacity or have fully stopped operations amid the pandemic. March retail sales were revised downward by 8.3 percent.
Sales of apparel and clothing accessories had plummeted by 78.8 percent from March 2020, while home furnishings retail sales had dropped 58.7 percent. Retail sales at electronics and appliance stores had fallen 60.6 percent, while health and personal care store sales dropped 15.2 percent.
General merchandise store sales decreased by 20.8 percent, while sales at food services and drinking establishments dropped by 29.5 percent. Sales at sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and bookstores fell by 38 percent, while sales at gasoline stations dropped by 28.8 percent.
Additionally, motor vehicle and parts dealer sales decreased by 12.4 percent, while sales at building material, garden equipment and supplies dealers slipped by 3.5 percent.
“We have never seen economic data like this before in history. It is sobering if not downright scary,” MUFG Union Bank Chief Financial Economist Chris Rupkey wrote in a research note following the report’s release. “Maybe consumer spending will pick up from this point as the country starts opening back up, but it has a long way to go before consumer purchases on goods and services get back anywhere close to the peak in January this year.”
While states might be opening up again this month, Rupkey wrote that “consumers are going to be slow to reengage and spend like they did just a few months ago, when the economy was the best in 50 years.”