Data released today painted a very grim picture of the economy. The data was bad in its own right, but what was very disheartening is that it showed that one of the supposed bright spots of the economy is actually doing poorly. Retail sales fell a whopping 16.4% in April after also falling steeply in March, the worst tumble in American history. Car dealerships and gasoline, which comprise a big part of retail sales, were slaughtered. Even grocery sales—one of the areas that seemed to be doing well—dropped 13% (!). The only bright spot was ecommerce, which still only rose a little over 8%.
FINSUM: This is a pretty devastating report. The big question is whether this speaks to the state of the US consumer (which to some extent it obviously does) vs to what extent it is just a temporary fear of the virus. We think this recession is going to last until at least the end of the year.