Saturday July 4th, 2020 11:15PM

US retail sales up 17.7% in a partial rebound from plunge

By The Associated Press
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BALTIMORE (AP) — U.S. retail sales jumped 17.7% from April to May, with spending partially rebounding after the coronavirus had shut down businesses, flattened the economy and paralyzed consumers during the previous two months.

The Commerce Department’s report Tuesday showed that retail sales have retraced some of the record-setting month-to-month plunges of March (8.3%) and April (14.7%) as businesses have increasingly reopened. Still, the pandemic’s damage to retail sales remains severe, with purchases still down 6.1% from a year ago.

The virus-induced recession has not only diminished spending in most sectors of the economy. It has also accelerated shifts in where people shop and what they buy.

The changes have in many cases intensified the financial strain on traditional physical stores and boosted online purchases. Sales at non-store retailers, which include internet companies like Amazon and eBay, rose 9% in May after posting growth of 9.5% in April. Clothiers achieved a stunning 188% monthly gain, but that was not enough to offset a 63.4% drop over the past 12 months.

Retail sales account for roughly half of all consumer spending, which fuels about 70% of total economic activity. The rest of consumer spending includes services, from cellphone and internet contracts to gym memberships and child care.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story is below:

U.S. retail sales likely recovered somewhat last month as the economy increasingly reopened from shutdowns caused by the coronavirus and more shoppers felt confident enough to spend.

The Commerce Department is expected to report Tuesday that retail purchases climbed 9% from April to May, according to economists surveyed by the data provider FactSet. This would mark a partial comeback after a 16.4% month-to-month plunge in April, the worst such drop on records going back to 1992, and an 8.3% drop in March.

Still, the recession caused by the pandemic continues to depress overall retail spending. It has also hastened a reshaping of how and where Americans shop. Consumers have increasingly shifted away from physical stores and toward online shopping, and fewer malls and small retailers will likely survive.

Though some major chains like Macy’s and American Eagle have already reported solid bounce-backs in sales, many local retailers and restaurants are struggling.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, AP Business, AP Business - Consumer News, AP Business - Economy
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