Retail Sales & Consumer Spending Forecast

Economic Forecasts

E-Commerce Surges to 18% of Retail Sales

Kiplinger’s latest forecast on retail sales and consumer spending.

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E-commerce sales surged 10.8% in April, following a 6% rise in March. E-commerce accounted for 18% of all retail sales in April, up from 12% just two months earlier. This share will decline somewhat as brick-and-mortar stores reopen, but some degree of step-up should remain.

All other retail and food service got hammered in April, falling 20.7%, almost double the March decline. Sales at clothing stores nearly disappeared entirely. Even sales at grocery stores declined, though they remain elevated after the March surge. After food stores, building materials sales have held up the best, with only a 3.5% decline in April.

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Although there has never been such a drastic drop-off in sales before, April was probably the low point. States are beginning to reopen and loosen restrictions. In states where they are still restricted, many retail stores are being allowed to offer curbside service. Hair salons and barbers are being allowed to open, though typically restricted to appointments only. Still, with social distancing requirements forcing a reduction in store and restaurant capacity, retail activity is likely to be depressed for some time to come.

Source: Census Bureau, Retail and Food Service Sales statistics