Retail Sales Plunge Way More Than Expected


Economists missed the mark badly this month on retail sales estimates.

The Commerce Department posted miserable Retail Sales Numbers for April.

Retail sales declined 16.4% vs Econoday Expectations of an 11.2% decline.  Excluding autos, the miss was much bigger. 

Ex-auto sales declined 17.2% compared to the expected 8.6% decline.

Commerce Department Statement

Due to recent events surrounding COVID-19, many businesses are  operating on a limited capacity or have ceased operations completely. 

Advance Retail Sales

Advance Retail Sales 2020-05

Clothing was down a whopping 78.8%, electronics 60.6%, Gasoline 28.8%. From a year ago, clothing was down 89.3%. 

Even grocery store sales were down, a surprise to me. 

The one bright spot was nonstore retailers such as Amazon, up 8.4%.

No V-Shaped Recovery

Despite talk from hopers, even the fed understands there will not be a V-Shaped recovery.

Instead they are promoting a helicopter drop of money. For details, please see Panic Sets In: Fed Promotes More Free Money


Comments (30)
No. 1-9

no one is going out. no reason to buy new clothes. who expected better?


Grocery store sales are down, even though I would assume the volume is up. Many consumers are probably substituting lower processed items for more expensive processed ones, cheaper cuts of meat for more expensive, generic vs name brand, etc.

Im also curious as to how commerce department classifies stores such as Meijer, Target, and even Wal-Mart, that sell both groceries AND general soft goods. DO they split up the numbers between the departments, or classify them as one or the other.....?

Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett

January and February with downward revisions ... with February already negative (adjusted) month over month.

Total Retail Sales Adjusted

Last Report

January ... $531.643 billion
February ... $529.262 billion
March ... $483.066 billion

This Report

January ... $529.616 billion
February ... $527.273 billion
March ... $483.476 billion
April ... $403.946 billion


According to zerohedge Bank of America seems to disagree - the credit card is wielded vigorously again:


Retail won’t recover for years. We have all changed our behavior and we all need to buffer our savings so who isn’t cutting back on retail purchases? I’m surprised it wasn’t worse.


Mish - Do you know how those expected values are arrived at? Are they any better than guesses? Is there any interim tracking and calculation involved in arriving at the next month's expected increase or decrease?



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