Retail Sales Plunge as Covid-19 Annihilates Consumer Spending

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When is the last time you pulled out your wallet and reached for some cold-hard cash?

U.S. consumers kept their cash stashed tightly in their wallets in April, holding off on shopping and dining as the coronavirus lockdowns across the country literally kept people from spending, retail spending figures for April showed on Friday.

U.S. retail sales, a measure of purchases at stores, gas stations, restaurants, bars and online, dropped a record 16.4% last month, almost double March's 8.7% decline, which was the steepest month-on-month drop since 1992 when record-keeping began.

Even sales at the gasoline pumps registered declines last month, reflected in a 16.2% drop in core retail sales, which strips out more volatile auto and gas sales.

Analysts polled by FactSet had been expecting a drop 11.4%, and a decline of 7.7% excluding auto sales, which normally account for a large proportion of the numbers, though even car and truck dealerships weren't selling last month. 

As expected, declines were steep and across the board, with notable drops in clothing (-78.8%), electronics (-60.6%), furniture (-58.7%), sporting goods (-38%) and department stores (-28.9%). Registering slightly less eye-popping declines were health (-15.2%) and groceries (-13.2%).

Online, which is measured as a separate category, rose 8.4%, the Census Bureau said - a category that includes internet merchants such as Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report

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