Phone Data Shows the Retail Recovery Has Stalled in Covid Hotspots

Mish

Retail foot traffic is falling especially in covid hotspot states.

Retail Recovery Limbo

Please consider recovery in limbo as retail traffic falls.

U.S. states that have driven a record surge in coronavirus cases may now be slipping backward here in their economic recovery, as cellphone data shows retail visits in a clutch of high case-growth locations falling below the rest of the country.

In Arizona, Texas, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, which had edged ahead of other states during their drive in May to reopen commerce, retail foot traffic has slipped below levels elsewhere, information from data firm Unacast showed.

The data, which covers the period through July 3, is not representative of retail sales. But it does highlight the dilemma many economists and health experts have raised from the earliest days of the outbreak of novel coronavirus: Inattention to health protocols like wearing of masks and social distancing combined with a rush to reopen businesses could lead to worse outcomes for both public health and the economy.

“A mismanaged health crisis across many states means short-term gains will transform into medium-term sluggishness as social distancing relaxation is reversed and virus fear lingers,” Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, wrote in an analysis on Thursday. “It’s now evident that the economy is entering Q3 (third quarter) with much less momentum than previously anticipated.

Nationally, cellphone tracking data from both Unacast here and Safegraph here showed retail visits were stalled or falling. Time management firm Homebase here showed employment among its small business clients hit a plateau, while clients of Kronos here which manages employee time across a larger swath of industries, showed a drop in shifts.

Sales are slowing and the recovery in jobs may have too, based on unemployment claims. 

For discussion, please see State Claims Decline But All Unemployment Claims Are on the Rise

Mish

Comments (19)
No. 1-8
Anda
Anda

"A mismanaged crisis..."

Short of apologising for anyone, but there are many economic distortions around because of the pandemic, the idea that economically one way or another of approaching the epidemic is better is subjective. So for example, north Africa has had relatively few cases, Morrocco around 20 000 or something, same Algeria, if figures are correct. They are keeping land borders closed indefinitely, three million Morroccans will not visit their relatives this year, just a much fewer number via flights with pcr test (majority drove from north europe previously). There goes a whole load of economic activity to safeguard Morrocco. E.g.

Spain had months of lockdown and it was late with that, but even so, after opening with a relatively low background of infection now infections are increasing noticeably. Baleares will oblige everyone to wear masks, will it make a difference to the economy, in which direction? It depends, as does how much of Spain goes back into lockdown, how much people will stand of that, because obviously protest and social disruption are not generally positive for economic activity either.

So trying to judge this all is close to impossible.

MiTurn
MiTurn

Similarly, individual states, e.g. New York, are imposing two-week self-quarantine requirements on residents visiting from specified states. How can this be enforced? Not that I'm opposed to it, as my state (Idaho) has been inundated by folks from neighboring states (primarily Washington) trying to get out of their places of residence for a vacation or just a chance to be outside, but they're bringing their friends (coronavirus) with them. Well documented.

Will the United States become less united? Will border controls be implemented at state borders? Already my home state had told visitors from a neighboring state to stay home. Weird times.

Felix_Mish
Felix_Mish

OK. Now replicate that graph at the top of this @Mish posting with a random set of 5 states. And do that a few times. Then you'll be able to calibrate anything shown on this particular table.

tokidoki
tokidoki

Dow 100 million.

Getting more and more bullish.

Mish is now doing more winning than the President.

anoop
anoop

can't figure this one out -- is it bullish or bearish?

njbr
njbr

Six000mileyear
Six000mileyear

I'm confused. The chart shows a 0.6% decrease Y-o-Y in foot traffic, but there were so many retailers closed during that time. I would expect at least a 50% decrease in foot traffic for April.

Anda
Anda

Sort of off-topic... Cataluña daily and 14 day cases, green line is end of lockdown

Via Matthew Bennett


Global Economics

FEATURED
COMMUNITY